Houston, Texas, welcomed our bakers, butchers, cheese makers, and everyone in between these past few days, as thousands from around the world flooded to the 2016 IDDBA Expo.
This year the International Deli Dairy Bakery Association outdid themselves in entertainment and offerings, with an emphasis on educating our industry in food safety and food allergy awareness.
A full scope of keynote speakers entertained and enlightened attendees, from “supermarket guru” Phil Lempert’s practiced insights and the belly-wrenching antics of Jerry Seinfeld, to the projections of Anthony Bourdain and dynamic theories of Simon Sinek, there wasn't a single speech that I didn't take a favorite moment from.
And the numbers spoke for themselves, according to association Chairman John Cheesman.
“Last year we had 9,322 attendees, this year we anticipate over 10,000,” he told everyone during the opening speech of the IDDBA Expo.
Last year, the show saw a marked manufacturing attendance, with the following categories:
With this year on the up from last, and the number of industry members who told me they made quality connections on the floor, 2016 promises to have topped even that.
So what was the industry abuzz about, and what can we anticipate in coming trends?
Awareness and sensitivity to allergies, and the loyalty generated by catering to the consumer demographic, were heavily emphasized topics, with a whopping 60% of surveyed consumers reporting that they would return to a story that met those needs.
And according to world renowned chef and food connoisseur Anthony Bourdain, the worlds of hot flavors and Asian cuisine are those to look out for in the years to come.
"The heat level Americans want has gone up and up," Bourdain told attendees. "Sriracha was just the beginning."
He added that funk and fermentation are a favorite for chef experimentation right now, and that the chefs are who we should watch for the next big thing in food.
From what I saw on the floor, he was spot on. Already the industry is gravitating towards the trends Bourdain and the other experts cited, often showcasing an allergen-friendly, vegan, or gluten-free option to reach that branch of shoppers that need such alternatives.
What a great three days to sip, bite into, and otherwise explore where our industry is and where it is going! Stay tuned for more coverages from the Houston show floor, and mark your calendars for next year in Anaheim, California.