Industry vets know this well, with newcomers quickly picking up the vibe, but there are few things as alluring to those in our field as a freshly laid out show floor, ripe with new innovations to experience. With the "most magical place on earth" neighboring this year's International Dairy Deli Bakery Association, 2017's Anaheim event was another dazzling display.
“IDDBA 17 was a knockout this year! It was packed with educational experiences from our speakers and experts to fresh and trending ideas in merchandising, products, and concepts," said Mike Eardley, IDDBA President and CEO. "We really focused on people this year and tried to facilitate opportunities through our show to help them grow. We’re so thankful to everyone who was a part of moving our industry forward at IDDBA 17.”
At this years sold-out event, there were 10,280 attendees from 30 countries, qualified buyers, merchandisers, executives, food manufacturers, brokers, distributors, and other industry professionals, all gathered with the mission of growing the future of their business at IDDBA. The expo consisted of 2,048 booths representing 825 companies.
A rooftop party kicked off this three day event, as industry members gathered for drinks, food, and photo booth fun as they were welcomed by the IDDBA. The tone of the event at large was set the next morning by Jewel Hunt, GVP of Albertsons Companies and Chairman of IDDBA. As attendees geared up for new inspirations and tactics to take home, Jewel urged leaders to make teamwork paramount to their strategies. To inspire, and in return, be inspired. A sentiment that rang true for the next couple days.
Before the session starpower was unleashed however, an industry influencer was due for recognition. Bestowed with the Chairman's Award, Albertsons GVP Marketing and Merchandising Dennis Clark espoused that paramount to his success and ours is never forgetting the customer and your team members; for without them, our industry is nothing.
"I'm honored to receive such an award, but also humbled because I know it takes a lot of individuals in order for our company to do what we do, and accomplish all the things we do," Dennis said of his distinction, smiling as he spoke of his team and their importance to his own work. "I started as a bagger with no intention of staying, and here I am all these years later."
From there, some heavy hitters of leadership outside of our industry sprang into action. Arnold Schwarzenegger took to the stage to share his three tips for success: have a vision, don't mind the naysayers, and work your butt off. After an inspirational session about hard work, Arnold bid adieu to the industry with "I'll be back," which I'm sure most of us hoped he meant literally.
Launching into an improv session with Jim Belushi and his comedy troupe, after he first dove into the crowd with his harmonica at the ready, the industry wasn't safe from the musings of these comic gems. Seeing a comic celebrity slice hunks of Columbus salami (cutting the wrong way, of course), and serving it right off the cleaver to session attendees isn't something we'll soon forget.
With that, the show floor was open. Hundreds of people flooded the aisles, from retailers looking for new partners, foodservice buyers looking for the latest trend, and other industry business members scoping out the best the Anaheim floor had to offer. Hot trends shining from the booths this year included value-added offerings of mixed flavors and ingredients (fresh wraps, salads, charcuterie, refrigerated soups, spreads and dips, etc), and convenience minded snack packs and other prepared foods (cheese, meat and cheese pairings, baked goods, sliced meats, and more).
With its varied lineup of session leaders, IDDBA not only provided a central hub for new and old partners to connect on the floor, but also a host of successful industry leaders to learn from. From celebrity Chef Giada De Laurentiis, former Trader Joe's President Dough Rauch, author and sports connoisseur Molly Fletcher, to former Starbucks CEO Jim Donald and many more, the chosen speakers provided insights and advice as to how to strive towards the top.
"We always value our IDDBA experience as it allows us to connect with existing and new customers to help solve common issues in the deli, while addressing the latest consumer trends," Megan Wolfe, Brand Manager at Hormel Foods, shared with me from the floor. "The great thing about IDDBA is its regionality. We enjoy connecting with customers based on the location of where the show is located."
Though three days seemed like a luxurious amount of time to take in the show floor and all of its offerings, IDDBA kept the industry on its feet with even more to glimpse in the Show and Sell marketplace, New Product Showcase, Expert Neighborhood, and Leadership Forum. The industry also provided more intimate connections at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's House of Blues party, allowing us to taste the possibilities of cheese with the soundtrack of a spirited band to inspire new friendships.
The final day kicked off with none other than beloved sports and inspirational figure, Magic Johnson. A fitting figure to impart a focused mindset to harness on the last day, Magic emphasized that success is getting there early, leaving late, and overdelivering. All given with a friendly smile, of course.
From more personal connections on the floor, to snippets made in passing, one thing remained clear: 2017 was a hit for the dairy, deli, and bakery industry, with all eyes looking happily towards 2018.
Need more IDDBA? Keep an eye out for our upcoming Yearbook to see who was there, right from the floor.