Anne, how important are high quality foods in the US?
For the segment of the population that can afford quality, it is extremely important and has become ever more so in the last 15 years. The interest of Americans in good food has made the country a force in the gastronomic world. Americans care very much about high-quality ingredients and products, their origin, and their production methods.
How much time do Americans spend on cooking?
The average, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 37 minutes a day; so Americans don't take a lot of time for cooking compared to other countries, which is why they love prepared products that can easily be incorporated into their cooking.
What is a good marketing strategy for Swiss food in the US against this background?
Switzerland's food and culinary traditions are not very well known in the United States outside of cheese and chocolate. But overall, Switzerland is a symbol of very high quality, precision, and reliability. A good marketing strategy would emphasize these elements and translate them to the food products being sold. Switzerland also has a reputation for being very traditional, which can make it not as appealing among younger consumers, so emphasizing the modernity of its products with labels and marketing campaigns that would appeal to millennials would be a good strategy to reach a wider market.
In what areas do you see the greatest potential for Swiss foods?
I see the most initial potential in gourmet and specialty markets. Because of its high quality, Switzerland is not associated with cheapness, so focusing on sectors where high net worth people interested in food look for products of high quality that seem interesting to them would be my first step. There is a strong trickle down effect around food in the US, so I would then target more mainstream supermarkets that have gourmet sections and/or are located in affluent areas.
What advice would you give Swiss SMEs that want to be successful in the US food market?
It's important to show customers how to use their products. Hiring brand ambassadors in key markets would be a large part of my strategy, people who are familiar with the US market and with Swiss products and can translate the attributes of the products to an American audience, helping them incorporate those into their cooking and eating habits.
In November, you and the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York organized an event for the participants of the food challenge. How did you experience the Swiss food and beverage producers?
Yes, I worked with the Swiss Consulate's team on the concept of last month's event, its flow, and its guests. The event was a great opportunity for New York influencers to get excited about the food challenge and share insights. I was impressed with how committed and dedicated the Swiss producers were to promoting their products during the whole process.
Do you use Swiss products in your recipes?
I do! I bring back lots of products whenever I visit – including a lot of hazelnut flour, which is not as easy to find in the US or is expensive, but so central to Swiss baking!
About Anne Engammare McBride
Anne Engammare McBride is a content provider, whether it is through writing, organizing conferences, or teaching. She holds a PhD in food studies from New York University and researches the changing role of the chef in the 21st century. Anne covers chefs and restaurants, global culinary events, and pastry for both consumer and academic audiences and is the co-author of six books, including Les Petits Macarons, Payard Cookies, and Culinary Careers. She has been developing, running, and presenting at culinary events for more than a decade, including as program director for the Worlds of Flavor® International Conference & Festival at The Culinary Institute of America and as director of the Experimental Cuisine Collective at NYU, where she regularly teaches. A native of Switzerland, Anne sits on the board of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and on the James Beard Foundation Awards Committee.
About the food blogger event
On November 29th, a group of enthusiastic food bloggers gathered for a cooking class at the residence of Swiss Ambassador André Schaller and his wife Brigitte Schaller-Schoepf. The gathering, organized by Anne McBride and the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York, highlighted the 17 products of the #TasteSwitzerland promotion at Fairway Market. This festive occasion featured Swiss cheese and wine pairings as well as a unique cooking lesson with the residence’s chef. Chef Yannick explored the vibrancy of these products to devise his own recipes, including Edemama’s soybean noodles for Swiss-inspired ramen, and Bischofszell Rösti paired with salmon for a modern take on the alpine classic. Through this hands-on approach, the food bloggers were able to experience the customs of Swiss cuisine, and enjoy the high quality of Swiss products and their practicality for modern cooking. The food bloggers had the opportunity to share this experience via social media and spread the visibility of the #TasteSwitzerland campaign among their large digital audiences.
Find the food blogger event recipes by chef Yannick Germanier in the PDF file below.