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F&B@Sea vendor and supplier spotlight

Autec sushi – the finished product
Walking into the two-day F&B@Sea event at Miami’s Mana Wynwood Convention Center from April 10-11, attendees were met with libations from a cocktail bar on one side and a booth stocked with a selection of sauces and juices on the other.

And that was just the entrance. From there, attendees could snake through barn-like wood structures where vendors and suppliers were doling out samples of plant-based options, pasta and pizza, different variations of alcoholic and non-alcoholic spirits and beers, just about every type of chips and snacks, English scones, a host of seafood options and for landlubbers, fillet mignon, rib eye and other cuts of beef. 

This year’s Sampler Village pop-up area was created to accommodate the additional suppliers and vendors who were vying for cruise lines’ attention. To handle the expected capacity crowds, in 2025, the plan is to expand F&B@Sea throughout the 100,000 sq ft Mana Convention Center, utilising the entire event space.

Next year’s F&B@Sea takes place April 9-10. 

Sampler village

Navigating the show was seamless with the spirits and beer representatives mostly nestled together, as well as a Sampler Village pop-up area with rotating companies where attendees could meet different vendors each day and an elegant centrepiece lounge with VIP vibes.

Among the nearly 75 vendors and suppliers in attendance were:


The sushi-making machines of California-based Autec Inc., currently featured on Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, were a huge hit. One machine created sheets of rectangular rice sushi ready for rolling while another, oval pods of rice sushi ready for nigiri making. The company was named Best Trailblazing Product during the Awards Ceremony event finale.

Autec Nigiri machine.jpeg

Autec’s sales manager, Mitsuo Kaneko, explained that each machine can be tailored to make two sheets of sushi rice at once and rice pods of varying sizes.

Plant-based food

Not yet available on a cruise ship but in attendance offering samples of their plant-based tuna and crabmeat balls was Jinka. Company co-founder, Alberta Liao, proudly stated ‘we were recently awarded a FABI Award from the National Restaurant Show.’ 

Jinka booth 2.jpeg

Rick Hirsch, VP of sales with Beleaf plant-based foods who attended the inaugural 2023 F&B@Sea, said, ‘Last year I was the only plant-based product offering and this year I counted probably a dozen.’ Carnival Cruise Line serves their plant-based shrimp, chicken drumsticks, calamari and ham and more. 

Chef Rob Hodge, director of culinary and plant-based innovations at PAOW! (People and Our World) said, ‘The base of all our products is soy, water and salt, that’s it, grown in Indiana and produced in Ormond Beach.’ Plant-based chicken nuggets, meatballs, ravioli and beef were among the many product samplings available.

Eco-conscious stirrers

In the Sampler Village, the pop-up area of the show, California-based Cornnext showcased their eco-conscious stirrers and corn straws, with the latter available in plain, lime and lemon flavours. Made from a combination of corn starch, water and natural enzymes, they are free of any plastic or plastic materials, evaporating after 10 hours in water with a five-year shelf life.

Cornnext Display 2.jpeg

Non-alcoholic beverages

Over at Ritual Zero Proof, there was a display of non-alcoholic gin, tequila, whiskey, rum and aperitif. Retail marketing manager Bri Makaric said their product is ‘great for anyone who has maybe had a few cocktails already and for those who don’t drink.’ Their zero-proof margarita is prepared with Ritual’s signature tequila that ‘tastes and smells just like full proof tequila.’ Celebrity Cruises carries it on their ships.


TAGS: Event News
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