As Alton Brown—Cook, Bestselling Author, Filmmaker, and TV Personality—shared to a packed auditorium on the second morning of the 2023 International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) Expo: We are all a part of one of the biggest communities in the world. That was certainly how it felt walking the sold-out show floor the first half of this week, exploring not only the newest innovations and offerings of all exhibitors, but watching industry professionals cross to different booths and promote each other as well.
“The energy in and around the Anaheim Convention Center is contagious,” David Haaf, President and Chief Executive Officer of the IDDBA, shared in a statement on the first day of the show, adding how this year’s event invited attendees to see the 365-days-a-year work the association does come to life. He further expanded on this on the morning of June 5 when covering the goals of both the association and our industry at large, as well as how it can offer support in meeting them.
Focused on sensory overload at the show and people retention and growth beyond it, Haaf and the IDDBA made clear the commitment to seeing deli, dairy, and bakery hit new heights amid constant change.
Amid strong attendance were buyers ranging from national to international, specialty to broad-reaching, including Walmart and Sam’s Club, Costco and Costco Canada, FreshCo, Albertsons, Gelson’s Markets, and more. According to the association, overall attendance and retail attendance were both back to the record setting pre-pandemic numbers.
“There are so many positive ways to describe the last three days. We are in Anaheim, so ‘magical’ seems so fitting,” Whitney Atkins, IDDBA’s Vice President of Marketing, said in a press release.
She further reported that early numbers clearly indicate IDDBA 2023 will go down as one of the most well attended in the association’s history. A fact that aligned well with what I heard on the floor.
“This is an important show in the industry, and we saw it as a chance to raise the stakes on our booth presentation—we were not disappointed,” Jeremy Schaller, Chief Executive Officer of Schaller & Weber, shared with me at the booth. “It was nice to come out and showcase the growth we’ve been experiencing. This is a key event, and we were excited to add to the success we have seen with the opportunities here and the potential we see from the show.”
A visual impression of the show’s reach was made clear when crowds gathered excitedly to hear General Sessions, with special guests such as Padma Lakshmi, Food Expert, Television Producer, Host, and Bestselling Author; Brown; and—to my ’90s kid delight—Tom Hanks.
The draw was so strong for attendees that, at one point, I looked over my shoulder and was shocked to see not only every seat filled in the relatively large space, but crowds standing against the wall to partake in the experience.
This same energy was found on the show floor where the IDDBA’s Education Team created a show within the show with the increasingly popular What’s In Store Live, which was a welcome opportunity to sit and engage with tastings, speakers, and technology opportunities amid exploring the trade rows. It was clear why this particular floor strategy is catching on.
Dominique Delugeau, Chair of the Board for IDDBA and Vice President Business Development at Saputo Dairy USA, presented the Chair Award to Terry Brockman, Chief Business Officer, Saputo, to celebrate his successful career and dedication to date.
Brockman has been with Saputo nearly 26 years, taking on several roles in leadership from Vice President of Human Resources to Chief Operating Officer before taking on his current role.
“Terry has been a mentor and a friend for the last 13 years,” Delugeau said fondly as he welcomed Brockman to the stage amid highlighting his accomplishments.
Haaf observed from the standpoint of growth how turnover is still trending high, which stagnates the potential to move up. As a solution, he highlighted both successes like Jason’s deli and training innovations like virtual experiences, as well as employee support resources IDDBA offers to help in this area.
In production, with value top of mind across the floor, Haaf also emphasized our industry’s ability to provide “permissible indulgences” amid stress of economic challenges and inflation. Premium products which are a splurge can feel more like a treat than an irresponsible expense.
On the show floor, I saw echoes of Alton Brown’s flavor trend prediction of “food tasting like itself,” with familiar flavors like garlic and berry enhanced by quality and careful cultivation.
IDDBA noted as we prepared to kick off its flagship event that its mission has always been to connect buyers and sellers, with visual messaging right upon entry to the Anaheim Convention Center, reminding attendees the show floor was designed to ignite all the senses with the latest in everything from packaging to products and solutions.
With a full belly and brain, I can attest to the success of this goal and look forward to next year in Houston, Texas!