Food Show On Ice

The National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) Convention takes place Oct.16-19 in San Francisco. Food Manufacturing spoke with Julie Henderson of the NFRA to see what’s new for this year’s show and what cool trends have developed in the industry.

Q: What is new for this year’s convention?

A: The NFRA Convention is unlike your typical food show. There isn’t an exhibit floor. Instead, it is set up so that manufacturers can schedule individual appointments with the retailers of their choice. Over the course of three days attendees can meet with dozens of companies in a sit-down, one-on-one session. It’s an efficient and cost effective way to do business, having all the top companies in one place with the intent to hold meetings. This year we have 50 different retail chains registered who have booked 71 meeting rooms to hold appointments.

A highlight of the convention is the Opening Taste of Excellence Reception. This is an opportunity for manufacturers to showcase their products to attendees in an elegant, reception-like environment. The event is sold out with 54 tables of the best and newest frozen and refrigerated products being served.

Q: What new innovations have been made in the frozen and refrigerated food industry in the last year?

A: With health and wellness top of mind, “better-for-you” products have really taken off. Whether it has added probiotics or addresses a specific need like gluten-free, we’ve seen a big increase in these types of products in the frozen and refrigerated market.

Q: What are the new trends emerging in the industry?

A: Tuesday morning’s breakfast speaker is Phil Lempert, The Supermarket Guru, who will be discussing new trends. He has done a survey of his consumer panel asking them about how the economy has affected their shopping habits, how they prefer to receive information about products, what motivates them to purchase a national brand versus a store brand, how important are “green” products and much more.

Q: What do you hope attendees will take away from this year’s convention?

A: Value. Our attendees consistently tell us this is the best “working” meeting. They get face-time with the industry decision-makers and are able to actually conduct business. With all the leading companies in one place, it saves time and money in future travel expenses.

Interview By Lindsey Coblentz, Associate Editor