Left, right, up, down, and every corner of New Orleans’ Convention Center was packed with swarms of industry professionals who rained down on the city for IDDBA 2018. After spending three days trekking the floor and meeting with companies showing their best, I learned that innovation and creativity have no bounds. Hot Cheetos and bacon donuts? Yeah! New logo and branding? You betcha! New cheese flavors? Everywhere!
“We’re setting our record. This will be the largest IDDBA in our history. A lot of people came down here to New Orleans to join the community and have fun with everyone here. The Show and Sell team started working last November to pull off one of the greatest display showcases I think we have ever had. We had a great presentation from Daymond John; Aaron Rodgers came in and gave a great talk on leadership. Carey Lohrenz, fighter pilot, gave a tremendous presentation on being fearless at work and left a lot of leadership,” Michael Eardley, President and CEO for IDDBA, shares with me. “We really have to talk about our Expert Neighborhood. We had our experts out there being able to talk to folks and help them with their individual issues—this is the only show where you can get a free 20-to-25-minute chat with some of the top professionals in the world.”
As I paced the showroom, I found inspiration in every booth. But before I even made it down there, the educational sessions prepped and motivated me for a day of networking. From Shark Tank's Daymond John’s shark points to first female F-14 Tomcat pilot Carey Lohrenz’s talk on fearlessness at work, there was much to be explored and enjoyed during the morning sessions.
The list of speakers who attended the event is as follows:
On the first day of the show, Bill Klump was awarded 2018 Chairman’s Award, an honor that had Butterball’s booth buzzing with excitement.
"It’s a really special thing for me. I have spent 25 years in the deli industry with great people, and to get recognized by your peers and by the IDDBA is very special. This show has been excellent. We have seen a lot of really great customers and are having good conversations,” Bill shares with me on the show floor. “Butterball allowed me the opportunity to become invested in IDDBA with the board and with the executive committee. So, I am really thankful to Butterball for that.”
The speakers also revved everyone up with their exciting and lively talks, and they welcomed the opportunities the show offers.
“Today’s the first day of the IDDBA; we’re all freshman in our own right,” said Jim Donald, President and Chief Operating Officer of Albertsons, in one of the show’s first keynote speeches. Donald encouraged attendees to approach the show with the same enthusiasm as college freshmen, adding: “How we approach this over the next three days will mirror the success you have coming from the show…That’s what I thought about on my first day at Albertsons, and by the way, that’s what I thought about today when I woke up and prepared to talk to all of you.”
With something for everyone, the show attracted a plethora of companies, with baked goods just around every corner. Some exciting developments were seen all over the showroom floor, but Wholesome Harvest Baking proudly displayed its newly licensed Cheesecake Factory bread for retailers and attendees to enjoy.
“IDDBA is great because it puts us on the map. We are gigantic in terms of the business that we do, but the show is a great ground to put out our best innovations. It’s also a hub for all retailers, brokers, and independents to come together. You hear a lot about innovation, new ideas, and the trends,” Dhriti Batra, Wholesome Harvest’s Category Marketing Manager, says to me.
New releases and exciting launches were seen across all categories, as Chief Marketing Officer for Golden West Foods Group Tony Cimolino shares.
“It's been a very good show for us. We really connected with a lot of current customers—big customers, the biggest: Safeway, Ahold Delhaize, Food Lion, and Trader Joe’s. It’s really become an annual event for us in terms of having that chance to showcase our products, other than in our meeting we have with them on a regular basis. What’s really surprised me is that we met some new clients, which is always my goal,” Tony explains. “It shows that we can have this product outside of traditional grocers, and that’s what I’m going for. All in all, this was a great year and we are already signed up for next year’s event.”
The week has also been incredibly important for those seeing the event through a retailer's perspective.
“The IDDBA is an all encompassing show that brings together retailers, suppliers and manufacturers from around the world into an environment filled with novel ideas, trend based food products and information presented in a manner designed to enhance industry operations. Additionally, seeing the faces of friends you haven’t seen since the last show makes the entire experience both productive and enjoyable. It is the best show of the year for our industry,” Peter A. Hejny, Senior Director of Service Deli/Bakery for the West Region for Supervalu, says to me of the event.
All of the cake challenge competitors walked away winners for the 23rd annual event. Randy Stratton won the first day’s challenge. Lindsay Anderson won the 2nd day's challenge, which had contenders taking on the task of representing New Orleans’ 300-year-old history. The last day, the three were challenged with creating a wedding cake, and Natasha Damm took home the prize for that contest. Ultimately, Lindsay took home first place for her week’s work.
"[The best part about participating in the show was] just a chance to show my skills and the experience I gained over the years. [The hardest part was] the stress and knowing that so much was coming down to five hours a day and trying to get so much done in such a small amount of time. It can get hard,” Lindsay laughs, before expanding that it was all worth it when she was able to showcase everything she has worked so hard to achieve.
Overall, the event was a smashing success, one that has much of the industry looking forward to next year.
“The IDDBA, for us, is the most important show of the year. Everybody who comes is an important customer. This has been very good this year. We introduced a lot of new items this year, and we have received great reception on a lot of them. But, obviously, it is the follow-up that you need to close the deal. We’re very happy with being in New Orleans and look forward to being in Orlando next year,” Phil Marfuggi, Ambriola Cheese’s CEO, tells me.
New Orleans might have brought the heat, but the industry brought innovations to keep grocery and foodservice options smokin’ hot everywhere we go. Until next time, IDDBA.