A World of Concessions: International debuts enliven NAC Expo

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Cinemas Features

The National Association of Concessionaires (NAC) is proud to offer its educational programs and operational enhancements annually. This year, The NAC Concession & Hospitality Expo is being held in Minneapolis, MN, July 19-22, and for the first time all three certification programs are being offered: the CCM (Certified Concession Manager) July 16-19, the ACS (Accredited Concessions Supplier) on July 19, and the ECM (Executive Concession Manager) on July 23.

NAC is proud of its educational forums and offers continuous regional seminars around the world, and this year’s convention provides a sampling with our presentation entitled “Leadership Counts.” The audience for our conference is truly diverse, and representatives from multiple countries trade ideas, concepts and experiences while networking. These personal exchanges prove to be every bit as valuable as the seminars themselves.

It is truly an international marketplace for everything in foodservice. And this year at the Concession & Hospitality Expo, that’s especially true, as multiple new items are being introduced with an international influence on the U.S. concession trade. Here’s a sneak peek at a few of them.

Le Waf

The Euro Snack Company is introducing a new snack item to the cinema channel originally developed in Brussels. Le Waf is the creation of a Frenchman named Michael Chalon. Born in France, educated in Germany and living in Brussels, Michael invented a new type of waffle snack. The actual waffle comes from a delicate dough which is formed in the shape of a ball, then frozen so that each portion is exactly the same. The recipe for this dough has a specific sugar pearl implanted in the center for that unique and distinguished flavor that can not be repeated in waffle batter. Le Waf dough balls are “slacked out” or thawed as needed; therefore, the waste is minimal and the waffle irons can prepare as few as one or as many as four at a time.

The product was originally introduced in 1997 at Busch Gardens in Monterey, Calif., and Mr. Chalon earned the right to serve these delectable snacks at the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pebble Beach in 2000. Now, Le Waf is a snack perfected for the cinema industry. The portion size is about the size of your palm and can be eaten by itself as a sugary snack, or it can be dipped in chocolate for added flavor. These little treats can be served with a variety of fruit concoctions to add even more variety. Any theatre operator who sells frozen yogurt can apply these morsels to enhance the frozen desserts as well. Ooh la la, a very interesting addition to the sweet side of concession snacks.

Toggi

Another aspect of the concession confection segment is the infusion of European chocolates. Toggi, a common indulgence in Europe, is making its way into U.S. theaters by way of Promotion In Motion, Inc. Jeff Scudillo, senior VP for specialty markets at PIM, suggests U.S. patrons are looking for high-quality confections that can fit into their movie experience. These light, crispy wafers drenched in fine chocolate offer a different feel on the taste buds, chocolaty yet light on the palate. These Toggi are preferred over all other coated wafers and come in four flavors: Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Hazelnut and Chocolate Peanut Butter. The packaging comes in four sizes as well, with the theatre box the most popular. The wafers will also come in one-pound holiday tins as gift packages.

Ricos Seasoned Chips

Ricos Products is offering a new type of tortilla chip for the nacho segment. These flavored chips are currently being served in South America and Mexico as an alternative to the simple salted tortilla chips in the U.S. This option will allow patrons to select a variety of chip flavors to fit their preferences. Charlie Gomez, VP of specialty markets and theatres, says the initial testing has been phenomenal and has experienced traction in Southwestern United States cinemas. The rollout for a complete transformation is scheduled for late 2016, but NAC delegates are being given a “private screening” of these chips at the conference. Mi amigo, gracias! Muchas gracias!

Maltesers   

Mars Chocolate continues to showcase its latest addition to its confection line with Maltesers at the NAC trade show. These bite-size spheres represent themselves as “a playful crunch with a slow chocolaty melt.” They resemble a malt ball, but somehow the texture seems to melt in your mouth as opposed to the crunchy feel of other malted products. This product has been sold on the international scene for years but is just now making its way to the U.S. Jeff Peterson, Mars Chocolate VP, theatre channel, is proud to announce that Maltesers will only be sold in theatres on the initial introductions throughout 2016. “The cinema channel will have something not sold in grocery or convenience stores,” he boasts.  

Dan Borschke, executive VP of the NAC, states, “The NAC Concession & Hospitality Expo is truly an international marketplace for all things concessions and hospitality—be it business-to-business opportunities or educational and certification experiences.” This year, more than 20 first-time vendors are presenting their items and assets to a myriad of buyers, showing off creative products and services for the movie theatre community and the foodservice industry. “This once-a-year event attracts buyers and sellers from throughout the world and interjects varying perspectives that make the interaction valuable and most worthwhile,” Borschke avows.

The Board of Directors at NAC has now extended invitations to five various transnational zones; Jeff Waaland, Asia; Carlos Ribaneneira, South America; Olga Yourik, South Russia, Alex Gehlishteyn, Northern Russia; Manu Soni, Middle East and Dubai. These executives continue to assist NAC in its global exercises reaching out to exchange business practices and techniques that can improve the food service operations for everyone.