America's Sweet Tooth For Desserts Grows But Portions Get Smaller

Las Vegas...Americans are eating more desserts than ever, but the portions are getting significantly smaller. This was the conclusion of dessert industry experts at the 3rd Annual Great American Dessert Expo, which took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center June 3-5. The show, held in conjunction with Coffeefest, is the nation's first trade show dedicated exclusively to the huge dessert industry.

John Stricker of Bakery.com, a manufacturer and distributor of baking equipment says he has noticed the trend in the equipment he sells. "Cookie sheets are now full of smaller cookies. People want the taste but not the calories." This was also the conclusion of Antoinette Bruno, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of StarChefs.com, a 10-year old organizer of many events for chefs. She also noted the drive to be different when it comes to desserts: "Cutting edge pastry chefs are even coming up with desserts that mix savory with sweets."

"While Americans are generally committed to eating healthier, they are looking for the creative ideas that offer them the healthfulness and the taste," said Menachem Lubinsky of LUBICOM Marketing Consulting, a New York based strategic marketing company that organized the show. This new trend prompted Brita DeBrest of Gaithersburg, Md. to launch Veggielicious, cookies using only organically grown vegetables. "This show was a wonderful place for us to showcase our trendy cookies," said Brita. John Merck of Brent & Sam's emphasizes that his gourmet kosher certified cookies are made with no added preservatives and "believe me it's what customers want."

Many exhibits showcased pastries and other desserts that often act as signature presentations to the most elegant parties. Amber Silver of Atkins International Foods in Noblesville, IN displayed some mouth watering pastries. Her upscale tasty cakes are sold in such places as Bloomingdale's in New York. Not far away was the exhibit of Rita Kwok of Le Chef in Montebello, CA, where some of the trendy "mini-pastries" were on display. Diane Maxwell, general manger of Jazz Fine Foods, is taking advantage of the growing demand in Las Vegas for her line of high end beautifully decorated cakes, purees and even breads. Founded just two years ago by Laureat Durot, a bakery family based in Montreal.

Amongst the nearly 5,000 trade visitors that visited the dessert and coffee shows were many chefs, bakers, and other buyers of desserts. They were focused on booths that served the industry, from cake decorating by Los Angeles based Parrish's Cake Decorating Supplies to South Florida based Aluma Works which markets all of the different pans bakers use. "Amazingly," says owner Rod Haber, "many of the pans on display are the same as my grandfather used," as if to say that the principles of good baking haven't changed.

The International flavor at the Great American Dessert Expo was not lost on visitors, headed by a large pavilion of products made in Sicily. The pavilion was the brainchild of Francesco Bisagnano. BIS International in cooperation with Regione Siciliane, the Regional Ministry for Cooperation, Trade, Craft and Fisheries. "Italy is a leader in creative desserts," said Mr. Bisagnano. The showcase included artistic glassware for use by high end establishments of Tiffany's Studio and Art Work (Siracusa), the natural marmalades of Colle Vicario, particularly in orange and strawberries, some typical Italian products like virgin olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, pesto sauce, and rosolio from Tuttosiciliy, biscuits from Costa di Costa and almond pastries from Savastra. The exhibit signature was its Baronessa Scintilia dessert wines, including Inzolia-Chardonnay, Syrah, and Nero D'Avola.

Louis and Dora Bonaccolta of College Point, NY also import some of the finest Italian dessert products, including gourmet chocolate

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