Lewis County maple products promoted at food show in England

Lewis County maple products traveled “across the pond” to a major food show in England.

“I think we had very good feedback from the people,” said Nadeen R. Lyndaker from Lyndaker’s Maple Orchard, Croghan.

“It’s a gateway to Europe,” added Michele E. Ledoux, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County.

The Lewis County pair promoted local maple products and handed out samples at the biannual Food and Drink Show last Monday through Wednesday at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, the second-largest city in England.

The show included more than 1,200 exhibitors and was attended by members of the food service industry from throughout Europe.

“You were pretty much on your feet all the time,” Mrs. Lyndaker said.

Mrs. Ledoux in 2013 traveled to China on a trade mission that ultimately led to a shipment of maple syrup going to that country in December 2014.

Then, in September, she and county Planning Director Frank J. Pace — representing Lyndaker’s Maple Orchard and Moser’s Maple LLC — met with representatives from 60 companies about Lewis County products, particularly maple, in Tangshan, China.

That was part of a New York trade mission organized by Trade New York, a program of Empire State Development Corp.

In paperwork for that event, Mrs. Lyndaker indicated that she would be interested in exporting to other countries, including England, Mrs. Ledoux said.

A Trade New York official in that country then got in contact with officials here and did a market analysis for maple syrup, she said.

Sample packs of maple products were then sent over, and Americatessen, a large distributor of U.S. products, expressed interest and offered space at its show booth.

The British distributor will follow up on leads gathered at the show over the next several weeks and see if they can get some orders, Mrs. Ledoux said.

“International marketing is not the end-all,” she said. “There are also opportunities for marketing in the United States.”

However, each trip provides new ideas to improve packaging for each particular country, which is essential in marketing efforts both here and abroad, Mrs. Ledoux said.

“Every time we’ve done them, we’ve learned something new,” she said.

Having an actual maple producer along this time was positive, offering Mrs. Lyndaker more insight into marketing possibilities, Mrs. Ledoux said.

“It was a big learning curve for me,” the Croghan producer said.

Mrs. Lyndaker said one of her primary tasks at the show was education, as many attendees thought only Canada produces maple syrup.

“They did not believe that the United States had maple trees,” she said.

The Lewis County representatives stressed the quality of syrup produced here and the variety of value-added products, including maple straws, sugar cakes, Maple Mini’s, maple sugar, maple spread and maple pepper garlic rub for meats.

The intent was to show that maple products are good for any meal, not just breakfast, Mrs. Lyndaker said.

Mrs. Ledoux said people were quite interested in using maple as an alternative sweetener for porridge, tea and other popular food items and liked the sugar cakes, which many referred to as “maple fudge.” A few candy shops showed some interest in the Maple Mini’s produced by Moser’s Maple, she said.

At the suggestion of Americatessen, the products at the show utilized the Lyndaker labels.

However, Mrs. Lyndaker, former president of the Lewis County Maple Producers Association, said she has been working with six other area producers in the effort, and the intent is to offer new marketing opportunities to any interested Lewis County syrup makers.

By Steve Virkler, Watertown Daily Times