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As it got underway Sunday, IDDBA 17 was en route to a new record number of attendees as it pursued its goal “to be more than a trade show.”
That’s how Mike Eardley, president and CEO of the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, explained the evolution of the trade group’s annual expo, being held this week in Anaheim, Calif.
Rather than being a mere gathering of buyers and sellers, the show is aiming to educate retailers and their trading partners on new and better ways of serving consumers in search of delicious, wholesome and convenient retail meal solutions.
“If we’re going to be a resource for the industry,” Eardley told trade press Sunday morning, “we’ve got to bring in people that are resources.”
To that end, this year’s expo features several new initiatives designed to meet that goal, among them:
- Expert Neighborhood: 25-minute by-appointment sessions that match attendees with experts to discuss questions, industry challenges and business problems.
- New Product Showcase: A way for exhibitors to highlight items that might otherwise be overlooked in large show booths.
- A “social wall” that collects attendees’ social media posts about exhibits, new products and session speakers. “We’re excited by the future potential of this,” Eardley said.
- Show & Sell Express: An adjunct to the expo’s annual Show & Sell center, geared toward convenience store operators, which Eardley said have been attending the show in greater numbers as they enhance their fresh food offerings.
The Show & Sell exhibit has undergone some changes as well. In addition to the workshops led by celebrity chefs that have been added in recent years, the area is striving to feature merchandising solutions that Eardley said are not only innovative, but also easily executable by retailers, still pushing the envelope yet keeping them practical for grocers to create.
Further, Show & Sell is paying more attention to restaurant-style retail foodservice as grocers aim to deliver not only higher-end prepared foods, but also a comfortable place in which consumers can enjoy them on-site. Other sections focus on opportunities in the breakfast daypart, as well as reducing food waste.
Eardley also stressed the need to encourage more strategic planning between buyers and sellers to better serve customers more consistently.
As part of that, Eardley asserted that the traditional silos among departments must come down. “It’s all about eating occasions,” he observed. “The consumer doesn’t care what department it is.”