Food industry expo links local suppliers to buyers

 

DOVER — Twenty-five local food suppliers will have their services on display at “Plate Local: Buyer and Supplier Matchmaking Expo” on Wednesday.

The event, focused on food industry professionals set up in the Harrington Raceway & Casino’s Gold Room, will serve as an opportunity for buyers to meet with potential local suppliers for their businesses.

All 25 suppliers at the expo are based out of Kent and Sussex counties and offer fresh meat, produce, dairy and beverages. The expo runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Expos are usually held on a grand scale with huge national companies that overshadow smaller, local businesses,” said D.J. Silicato, director of Food and Beverage for Harrington Raceway & Casino.

Harrington Raceway and Casino started buying local about two years ago and has made many area connections and continues to promote local brands.

Hank Rosenberg, CEO of Hospitality for Harrington Raceway & Casino, said that restaurants pairing with local suppliers is a “triple win.”

“Our business benefits because the local pricing is very competitive which saves us money, the local suppliers benefit when more of their products are sold, and our customers benefit because they are getting higher-quality locally grown foods.”

The event is a collaborative effort between the Kent Economic Partnership’s Food Innovation District, the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, Harrington Raceway & Casino and Kent County Tourism.

The idea came about a year ago, and since then Mr. Silicato said he thought the biggest challenge would be getting vendors but every vendor stand will be occupied. That makes the new goal to bring in attendees, both professionals and amateurs that have a need for large purchases.

“It is about more than food, it’s about supporting your neighbors and today, people don’t know their neighbors,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “People just don’t know about the smaller options available to them and this event will help change that.”

The expo will allow the two different ends of the food and beverage industry come together and form beneficial partnerships.

“You have to think about, if a local supplier makes even 10 connections to other businesses, that could be huge for them,” Mr. Silicato said. “Usually small businesses don’t have the time to make these kind of connections but this is a good opportunity for everyone to come face-to-face.”

Bonz Steakhouse will be using some of the featured local products to make and serve dishes to attendees while beverage suppliers provide product samples.

Participating food and beverage suppliers include Vanderwende Farm Creamery, Evans Farms, Frozen Farmer, Nassau Valley Vineyards, Mispillion River Brewing, Rapa Scrapple, Kirby & Holloway, Lewes Dairy, Tantanka Sauces, Fordham & Dominion Brewing, Haass Family Butcher, Harvest Ridge Winery, Frankfurt Bakery & Deli, Hopkins Creamery, Pasqualini’s Bakery, 16 Mile Brewing Co., Dogfish Head Brewery, Lewes Fish House, Other Side Produce, Fifer Orchards, Big Fish, Painted Stave Distilling, Delaware Distilling Co., Sexauer and Red Acres.

While the event is free of charge, attendees must RSVP to attend by calling the CDCC at (302) 734-7513.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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