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SmallBytes Winter 2013 Edition
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Taste NY had a successful 2013 – what’s next?


The NYS Restaurant Association has spent the past year supporting Governor Cuomo’s Taste NY initiative by attending his Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit last November, his Wine Cup Tour in the Finger Lakes in August, encouraging members to sign his Taste NY pledge and through events like a recent panel discussion and networking event the NYC Chapter hosted. Click here to read about this event and discussion of locally sourced products. 

But there is more happening to promote New York State as a leading hub for beer, wine, spirits, cider production and tourism. On November 18, the NYS Restaurant Association joined several New York State farmers, brewers, distillers, along with agency Commissioners, Executives and Governor’s staff for the Farm Based Beverage Council Meeting as a follow up to last year’s NYS Wine, Beer and Distilled Spirits Summit. The Council reviewed what has happened on the promotion, regulatory and statutory fronts in the farm beverage industry and the Governor’s Taste NY initiative to solidify New York’s position as a leading producer of beer, wine, spirits and cider production and tourism.  

They discussed current business ventures, issues and opportunities along with current efforts to advance and expand promotion for local NY food businesses throughout the state in 2013. One important decision made is that Cider has now been added to the Wine, Beer, and Distilled Spirits group. Melissa Autilio Fleischut, President and CEO of the NYS Restaurant Association stated "there have been many regulatory changes to get people involved in farm distilleries with the hopes to get people to use more NY products and to create more jobs in the agriculture and spirits industry and retail industries.”  

The Council discussed important events and what they accomplished this past year, one being the NYS Restaurant Association  making a visit to tour the Finger Lakes wine region this past August. The NYC Wine and Food Festival in October was also an important event to promote and educate consumers on the great local products New York State has to offer.  

Another successful initiative from 2013 is the Pride of NY Pledge which aims to get NY restaurateurs and chefs to pledge to use 10 percent more NY State products on their menus: ingredients, spirits, etc. Research shows that consumers want more local options and it’s a trend that is well received. Over 80 NYS Restaurant Association members have taken the pledge and everyone on the Council is encouraged that the restaurant industry is using local products. All pledge participants will be featured on the Taste NY website going forward.  

They also reviewed next steps to further the industry by reviewing long term plans for 2014 in regards to implementation and support for the program and local NY businesses through several new efforts: new advertising campaigns, events, retail store openings, Taste NY destinations, restaurant and liquor store initiatives, the Beverage Trail initiative, and business climate initiatives including agricultural law changes.

There are future plans for retail stores in airports - including Buffalo and Islip in LI, which will sell all New York State products. The big sellers at these stores are drinkable yogurt and chocolate milk. "The purpose of the retail stores is to offer consumers at the airports NY products and to expand our local market to more people and get a sense of what NY is all about,” stated Fleischut. The council also revealed plans to create a rest stop on the Taconic Parkway in a historic building also offering NY local products.  

The meeting included a lot of discussion around research and farming – Cornell University is a leader on the research side of things and is exploring more ways to increase hop, barley and malt production in New York state and help farmers learn to grow and sell grains more efficiently.  

The Annual International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York is partnering with Pride of NY and NY Wine and Grape Foundation with plans to include over 50 booths showcasing all local New York state products and purveyors. They will be inviting representatives from NY breweries, cider mills and distilleries to participate at the booths in the 2014 show.  

There have been some favorable agricultural law changes happening for local producers for increasing growth and sales to the state. In the past, distilleries could not produce beer and spirits in the same building but they have now eased restrictions on that going forward. Hops have also been included in the definition of "agricultural, commodity” and there is a new real property tax exemption for trellises.    


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