by Dan Domingo, Committee Chair, FCIA Board Member and Treasurer
2020 is proving to be a transformative year for FCIA as we adapt to the new business environment resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a description of how the year started, where we are now, and a future path forward.
The First Quarter 2020 Started Strong: Two Successful FCIA Events
Our initial plans in 2020 started on track. We developed a new partnership with the Fancy Food Show in both San Francisco and New York and prepared for a separate Elevate Chocolate event. In January, the Specialty Foods Association offered us an FCIA Fine Chocolate Pavilion and a stage area for demonstrations, pairings, tastings, and other member-led presentations on fine chocolate in San Francisco. Over 25 company members had kiosks in the pavilion. This was a huge step forward for FCIA and paved the way for collaboration on other Fancy Food Show events.
In early March, FCIA hosted Elevate Chocolate at the Palace of Fine Arts, the day before the Craft Chocolate Experience. Despite some obstacles, the event had the highest attendance of any FCIA winter event. The partnership with a consumer-facing festival allowed our members the ability to sell product to cover their costs and promote your brands. Elevate Chocolate included some dynamic general session speakers and 10 exceptional workshops. The summary report will be sent to you on April 23. Thanks to all of the sponsors, speakers and attendees!
Adapting in the Age of Corona
As we left San Francisco in March, news of coronavirus was becoming increasingly serious. FCIA spent the following week refocusing our efforts to help our members through these difficult times. Bill Guyton established relations with the Small Business Administration regarding the disaster assistance programs for the United States. He sent out detailed information on the application process to members in an email a few days ago. Additionally, FCIA partnered with the Specialty Food Association on a webinar on Friday, April 3 featuring the legal team from Arent Fox LLP entitled “Learn from the Experts: CARES Act Loans and Grant for Small Business.” If you would like additional information or the transcript from this session, please contact Bill. A second webinar on loan applications is being planned within the next two weeks, so keep an eye on your inbox if you would like to participate.
The second initiative was building a consumer-facing website called Make Mine Fine: FCIA Fine Chocolate Online Marketplace. This was done in partnership with FCIA’s marketing and communications committee to highlight our member companies who offer online sales.
While we understand these are difficult and busy times for everyone, we will continue to work and provide meaningful and relevant educational content for members as best we can throughout the year.
Future In-Person FCIA Events
No one is certain exactly when we will be able to resume fine chocolate events and festivals. Many have been canceled or postponed through the summer, including the Summer Fancy Food Show that had been planned for June in New York City. FCIA is working with organizers on a new dates for the Ecuador Cocoa and Chocolate Summit, which we are now planning for late September in Quito, Ecuador. We are also excited to announce a new partnership with the Salon du Chocolat NY for their November 14-15, 2020 event. FCIA’s role will be to provide educational content to that program. We negotiated a 20% discount for our members who exhibit at the event. This has already proven to be a great win-win collaboration. FCIA hopes to develop similar models of collaboration with other trade shows and festivals in the US and abroad.
Thanks to all of our committee members and staff who are working hard to provide valuable services to our members through these educational opportunities and events.