If you’re a food or beverage vendor strategizing for the coming year of commerce, now is a good time to think about which trade shows to attend.
In these days of rapid-fire technology growth and the spiraling of e-commerce, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of your industry developments. Missed trade shows mean missed opportunities to network with vendors, weigh your competition, expand your inventory, learn about new trends and innovations, and/or gain a fresh perspective on best practices.
When you go, consider bringing giveaways and other products that showcase your company logo. Deluxe can design meaningful and eye-catching logos you can display on everything from business cards to cellphone cases to cornhole boards.
To help you evaluate which events to attend, we’ve compiled a list of 18 of the most popular annual trade shows for small businesses in the food and beverage industries. Consider how they might fit into your company goals and aspirations.
- The 42nd Winter Fancy Food Show was held Jan. 22-24 in San Francisco. It drew some 20,000 annual attendees, focuses on the newest producers and hottest new products in the specialty, gourmet, ethnic, natural and organic foods segments. Some 1,400 exhibitors from 36 countries typically feature 80,000 on-trend and best-in-class products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, and ethnic, natural and organic foods. Don’t fear if you missed this event – the Specialty Food Association hosts this event and a similar July event in New York.
- The three-day NRA New England Food Show will draw some 14,000 professionals from the region’s restaurant, food service and hospitality industries to Boston Feb. 26-28. Some 68 percent of attendees come directly from the restaurant/food service industries, while 12 percent are affiliated as such and 11 percent are dealers or distributors. This year’s keynote speakers include chef, author and restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian and Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner.
- The International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York: This extravaganza from March 5-7 in New York City is expected to draw about 15,000 registrants. Meet some 500 leading vendors and network with independent restaurant owners, QSR establishment operators, caterers, bakers and chefs.
- The Restaurant Facility Management Association (RFMA) Annual Conference this year is set for Orlando, Florida, from March 5-7. Geared toward food service and restaurant managers, it includes multiple presentations, networking, a philanthropic event and entertainment.
- The Natural Products Expo West slated for March 8-12 in Anaheim, California, attracts about 67,000 attendees each year. With a focus on the latest natural, organic and healthy products, it normally features some 3,000 exhibits and 80 different educational presentations. This year’s keynote speakers include Campbell Soup Co. CEO Denise Morrison and former Trader Joe’s Co. President Doug Rauch, with 27 other industry speakers also on the docket.
- The 22nd annual Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC) is set for March 7-9 in Las Vegas. Typically, more than 700 restaurant technology executives and solution providers gather to learn about their industry’s latest bells and whistles. Nineteen speakers are scheduled.
- The 32nd annual Nightclub & Bar Convention & Trade Show will be March 27-29 in Las Vegas. Around 36,000 professionals are expected to attend, and 600 exhibitors will present at this event, which is billed as the only bar and nightlife industry show in North America. Products ranging from spirits to lighting and sound technology to cleaning equipment will be showcased, and 75 presentations are planned, including four from keynote speakers.
- The Northwest Foodservice Show is April 23-24 this year in Portland, Oregon. Attracting some 400 exhibitors, it draws upwards of 3,300 attendees ranging from raw material providers to food vendors to furniture manufacturers. Eleven educational presentations along with multiple tasting opportunities and new product demos were offered last year.
- The United States Trade Tasting will be May 16-17 in New York City, aimed at helping boutique wineries, craft breweries, craft distilleries, importers, distributors, retailers and beverage companies learn, source and grow. Highlights include tasting sessions, a world whiskey master class and 12 speakers providing TED-style presentations.
- National Restaurant Association Show (NRA): This usually draws some 64,000 restaurant and food service professionals, making it the largest food service and hospitality marketplace in the western hemisphere. The venue is McCormick Place in Chicago, with dates set for May 20-23. Over 2,000 exhibiting companies from more than 100 countries will demonstrate the latest products and technologies, and some 60 educational sessions are planned. Major focus areas include food, beverages, equipment, smallwares, apparel, tabletop furnishings, design, technology and services.
- Organizers of the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago May 23-25 expect 16,000 participants and 750 exhibiting companies. Last year the event, geared toward retailers and manufacturers of candy, cookies, nuts and other snacks, brought together more than 760 exhibiting companies from 23 countries in what’s touted as a four-acre exhibition hall. Some 130 companies were specifically featured in a market showcasing specialty products including premium, gourmet, vegan, all-natural, gluten-free and organic varieties.
- The IDDBA Dairy-Deli-Bake Seminar & Expo: Slated for June 4-6 in Anaheim, California, this is considered the largest show in the world catering to the bakery, confectionery, dairy engineering and general food and beverage industries. It attracts some 9,000 attendees annually. Presenters have included former presidents, professional chefs, comedians, industry leaders and athletes.
- The Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting & Food Expo (aka “IFT17”) in Las Vegas June 25-58 draws about 20,000 professionals and 1,200 exhibitors interested in food ingredients, equipment, processing and packaging. This year’s expo offers 100 learning sessions.
- The 35th Annual Concession and Hospital Expo: Targeted toward food and beverage concession leaders in the recreation and leisure-time industries, this year’s expo is July 11-14 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Keynote speakers include entrepreneur/civil rights activist Derreck Kayongo, time management expert and author Randy Dean, food ethnographer June Jo Lee and hospitality expert Ken Wilson.
- The Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality Expo in New Orleans Aug. 5-7 is targeted toward food industry professionals along the Gulf Coast, with a target attendance of 10,000. Fourteen learning sessions are planned, along with an awards gala, “idea zone” and Mardi Gras parade.
- The 63rd Summer Fancy Food Show: Slated for July 25-27 in New York City, this huge event by the Specialty Food Association focuses on the specialty food market. Last year more than 47,000 people and 2,670 exhibitors from 55 countries participated.
- The Atlanta Foodservice Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, Sept. 18-19 focuses on the restaurant, food service and hospitality industries in the southeastern U.S. About 200 exhibitors are expected.
- The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit taking place Oct. 19-12 in New Orleans is slated to attract about 20,000 people from the global produce and floral supply chain, including retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, grower/shippers and importer/exporters. More than 1,100 exhibitors from 60 countries are expected. Last year’s workshops focused on global connections, science and technology, leadership, industry talent and floral industry challenges.
Trade shows can compel you to brainstorm new ideas for your business, learn about new techniques and trends, meet relevant suppliers, and hobnob with other professionals who understand your challenges. Consider taking time from your busy schedule to sign up and make them happen.
Make sure your business is remembered at these events.
We can help you design your perfect logo.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in April 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.