On Sunday, February 24, 2019, the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce Texas hosted a seminar for a group of 50+ Italian winemakers, food producers, and Italian-focused food and wine trade distributors and importers at the Hilton Post Oak hotel in Houston’s Galleria district.
The event was underwritten by the Italian government’s True Italian Taste campaign, which promotes awareness of authentic Italian food and wine products and authentic Italian foodways.
The gathering’s panel featured a group of highly respected food industry leaders and specialists including Patrick Collins, senior manager at Rouses Supermarket; Bruce Schoenfeld; Master Sommelier June Rodil, operations manager for one of the largest restaurant groups in Texas; veteran restaurateur and wine importer and Nathan Smith; New York-based Italian food product importer Cecilia Ercolino; Houston Chronicle food columnist J.C. Chris Reid; and Italian food and wine educator and writer Jeremy Parzen, who moderated the panel.
Over the course of two hours, each panel member shared their insights into how to reach American buyers, writers, and opinion leaders and influencers.
Collins spoke about his company’s approach to buying and what he’s looking for when sourcing new products for the chain’s “private label” brands.
Rodil talked about learning her company’s “best practices” before contacting their buyers.
Schoenfeld shared his advice on how to write press releases that will grab the attention of the writer or blogger.
Ercolino focused on making sure your product is U.S. government approved and ready to ship before contacting potential buyers.
Smith related what small-to-medium-sized importers like him look for when considering new suppliers to work with.
Reid revealed ways that you can use social media to get to know prospective buyers, chefs, and sommeliers.
Parzen stressed the importance of getting to know the community where you aim to sell your products.
Following their remarks, the panel took questions from the buyers before joining them at a reception and dinner where the Italian trade members had the opportunity to interact and chat with them one-on-one.
“What a great group of food and wine professionals from both sides of the Atlantic!” said Parzen who consults regularly with the IACC.
“This is what our mission is all about: Creating community and connecting businesses.”
Extraordinary Italian Taste: A campaign to raise awareness of authentic Italian foods and genuine Italian foodways. Financed by the Italian Ministry for Economic Development, realized by Assocamerestero in cooperation with the Italian Chambers of Commerce abroad.
Il progetto True Italian Taste è promosso e finanziato dal Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico e realizzato da Assocamerestero in collaborazione con le Camere di Commercio italiane all’estero, per valorizzare e salvaguardare il prodotto agroalimentare autentico italiano. True Italian Taste è parte del programma “The Extraordinary Italian Taste”.