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2016 Food & Beverage Industry Trade Show Map

With the start of a new year, comes another round of trade shows and conferences for the food and beverage industry. As a handy reference tool, we’ve created a map that plots out the locations as well as a calendar with quick facts of several of 2016’s most prominent events. Our team will be attending several of these trade shows throughout the year—sharing trends and insights on our blog that we’re seeing from the companies exhibiting and sponsoring events. Let us know which trade shows you’re attending this year and maybe we’ll see you there!

2016 U.S. Food and Beverage Industry Calendar of Major Trade Show Events

Product Innovation Leads the Way for Research Chefs

The Research Chefs Association’s (RCA) 2015 Annual Conference and Culinology Expo in New Orleans was once again the year’s best event for many of the leading product innovators in the food industry. From March 24-27, top celebrity chefs, research and development chefs, and culinologists from leading food manufacturers gathered for four days of unparalled food and fun as only New Orleans can provide.

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The conference got off to a great start with the opening reception at Generations Hall in the Warehouse District. The event was sponsored by Ardent Mills, Red Arrow and Symrise. Ardent Mills brought in a live New Orleans jazz band along with their ever popular Mobile Innovation Center (MIC). The MIC shut down the street in front of Generations Hall and served a variety of new food samples including Sweet & Savory Grits, Bayou Dirty Rice and Peach Cobbler made with Ultragrain® white whole wheat flour. Attendees raved about the food as they rocked out to the rhythms of the jazz band.

The theme of new product innovation continued throughout the conference. In the opening keynote address, New Orleans celebrity Chef John Besh talked about the important role that innovating new dishes from traditional southern cuisines has played in keeping his restaurants popular leaders in the region. He also spoke about the work his Besh Foundation is doing with the local “Chefs Move” program.

Many of the seminars and breakout sessions also featured presentations on new product innovation for the chefs and product developers at the conference. One of the best attended sessions was titled, “From Unarticulated Consumer Needs to Products that Rock” and was presented by Mark Crowell from Culinex and Michelle Berry from Centric Brand Anthropology. The session focused on the need to align new products with a consistent brand experience and brand positioning that connects with consumers in an authentic way.

Overall, this year’s conference was one of the RCA’s best in several years. The focus on new product innovation and the roles played by research chefs and culinologists will continue to be a major trend in the food ingredient industry for many years to come.

Top Trend Served at RCA: Regional Cuisine

The 2014 Research Chefs Association (RCA) Annual Conference and Culinology® Expo recently took place in Portland, Ore., March 11-14. Portland has been dubbed “America’s new food Eden” by TIME Magazine because of its trend-setting food truck scene, as well as its secret supper clubs and expansive outdoor markets.

Food Truck LunchDuring the RCA show, food trucks lined the street behind the Oregon Convention Center serving up a variety of regional cuisine. From tacos to fresh salads and wraps to gourmet sandwiches, the lunch selection satisfied a variety of taste buds. In addition to the food truck scene, the trend of regional cuisines dominated many local restaurants, which were crowded with RCA chefs and their friends.

The trend of regional cuisines was also a hot discussion topic at the conference. For the opening reception, which took place at the Portland Art Museum, local restaurants like Café NellKachka,Trébol Mexican Cuisine and Pazzo Ristorante provided samplings of their authentic locally sourced dishes.
With the regional cuisine trend getting so much attention at this year’s RCA show, we can expect to see restaurant menus and the foodservice industry provide even more of these offerings over the next year. It should make for some great dining and culinary delights.

Research Chefs Focus Attention on Sodium Reduction

The 2013 Annual Conference of the Research Chefs Association (RCA) was held in Charlotte, N.C., in March and once again focused on the latest trends in new product development. The Culinology®Expo featured over 100 different exhibitors showcasing the latest ingredients and culinary applications. Corporate chefs and new product development executives from the leading food manufacturers and food service companies exchanged ideas and experiences around new innovations and industry challenges.

One of the biggest trends getting the chefs’ attention was the ongoing pressure on food manufacturers and processors to reduce sodium in their food products. The loudest buzz at the RCA Show around sodium reduction was for ingredient supplier, Nu-Tek Food Science, and their new technology solution for reducing sodium in a wide variety of prepared food applications. At the Saturday morning conference breakfast, Nu-Tek Food Science executives showcased their new technology with an array of traditional breakfast items with significantly reduced sodium levels.

RCA Breakfast Photo-croppedCorporate Chefs Adam Moore and Todd Downs from Charlie Baggs, Inc. presented their English Muffin Challenge with 40-percent reduced-sodium English muffins at an Eggs Benedict station that included 50-percent reduced-sodium bacon, poached eggs and mustard hollandaise. The breakfast buffet also included Cheesy grits with 33-percent reduced-sodium cheddar cheese and 50-percent reduced-sodium sausage links. All of these breakfast items were made with Nu-Tek Food Science’s sodium-reduction technology.

Attendees were wowed by the great taste of the reduced-sodium foods. Corporate Chefs from Unilever, Morrison Food Service and other major manufacturers raved over Nu-Tek Food Science’s sodium-reduction technology as a major breakthrough in addressing this important food industry issue.

Once again, the annual RCA conference showcased the leading edge trends for food manufacturers and processors and in the case of the Nu-Tek Food Science breakfast buffet, did so with the great taste and top-shelf presentation that the research chefs have come to expect.

Celebrity Chefs Ruled at RCA 2012

As we get ready for the 2013 Research Chefs Association Annual (RCA) Conference and Culinology® Expo in Charlotte, we look back at last year’s event in San Antonio where celebrity chefs received widespread attention. Throughout the conference, the chefs showed just how much their influence has grown in the development and formulation of processed food products from the major manufacturers. This was evident at the Expo, where well over 100 food ingredient companies pitched their products to corporate chefs from major customer companies such as Kraft, Kellogg, Uniliver and Nestle.

Chef-John-BeshThe chefs were also featured at numerous private events held throughout the city’s bustling restaurant district. The one that seemed to have the most buzz starred celebrity TV chef and restaurateur, John Besh, at his popular restaurant,Lüke, on the San Antonio River Walk. Sponsored by Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings and ConAgra Mills, the event featured a delicious menu of small plate items prepared with ingredients, spices and flavors provided by the sponsors to the chef’s team. One popular item was Spicy Bam Bam Shrimp in a tempura batter made with Ultragrain® White Whole Wheat Flour and a Spicetec seasoning blend of sriracha and vinegar flavors. The menu drew rave reviews, and guests were excited to talk serious food with Chef Besh and his team.

One of our favorite chefs every year at RCA is Chef Robert Danhi. Chef Danhi got his share of buzz for his great new cookbook, “Easy Thai Cooking,” featuring family-style dishes easily prepared at home. The book and companion video are available on Chef Danhi’s website.

Chef Gerri Bouchard, the corporate research chef for Eatem Foods, also drew a lot of attention for her innovative flavor systems. Samples of food applications featuring those flavor systems included an intriguing Pho Bo with cilantro, jalapeno and Thai basil.

Corporate chefs, research chefs and their product development colleagues will continue to be a major influence on the formulation and development of new processed food products. Expect to see food ingredient marketers focus even more of their efforts on chefs in the future. We’ll be reporting on the latest developments and trends at RCA 2013. Check back to read about all the news from this year’s event.

Celebrity Chefs Rule at RCA

Celebrity chefs received widespread attention at the Research Chefs Association (RCA) 2012 Annual Conference and Culinology Expo in San Antonio. Throughout the conference, the chefs showed just how much their influence has grown in the development and formulation of processed food products from the major manufacturers. This was evident at the Expo, where well over 100 food ingredient companies pitched their products to corporate chefs from major customer companies such as Kraft, Kellogg, Unilever and Nestle.

Chef-John-BeshThe chefs were also featured at numerous private events held throughout the city’s bustling restaurant district. The one that seemed to have the most buzz starred celebrity TV chef and restaurateur, John Besh, at his popular restaurant,Lüke, on the San Antonio River Walk. Sponsored by Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings and ConAgra Mills, the event featured a delicious menu of small plate items prepared with ingredients, spices and flavors provided by the sponsors to the chef’s team. One popular item was Spicy Bam Bam Shrimp in a tempura batter made with Ultragrain® White Whole Wheat Flour and a Spicetec seasoning blend of Sriracha and vinegar flavors. The menu drew rave reviews, and guests were excited to talk serious food with Chef Besh and his team.

One of our favorite chefs every year at RCA is Chef Robert Danhi. Chef Danhi got his share of buzz for his great new cookbook, “Easy Thai Cooking,” featuring family-style dishes easily prepared at home. The book and companion video are available on Chef Danhi’s website.

Chef Gerri Bouchard, the corporate research chef for Eatem Foods, also drew a lot of attention for her innovative flavor systems. Food application samples featuring those flavor systems included an intriguing Pho Bo with cilantro, jalapeno and Thai basil.

Corporate chefs, research chefs and their product development colleagues will continue to be a major influence on the formulation and development of new processed food products. Expect to see food ingredient marketers focus even more of their efforts on chefs in the future.

Top 3 Trends at Research Chef Conference

RCA’s 2011 annual conference always attracts the leading food ingredient manufacturers and marketers who want to showcase their wares to the research and R&D chefs that are designing new foods for the major CPG and food service customer companies. It’s a great place to talk to the ingredient companies about the major trends and issues they are hearing about from their customers.

Here are three top trends I heard about from nearly every ingredient company I spoke with:

  1. Low-Sodium and Sodium-Replacement Products: Nearly every exhibitor at the Culinary Expo had some type of low-sodium or sodium-reduction ingredient or solution to offer. The focus has shifted to development of application-specific ingredients that perform in commercial scale operations. Customers are inundated with different ingredients and claims and want to know what will work with their products and processes.
  2. Customization for Customer Applications: The need to offer customizing services to fit specific customer needs in product development and manufacturing, seemed to be a consistent message from most of the ingredient companies. Customer companies are demanding more support from their suppliers and want resources and information that can help their products succeed. Engagement with R&D and marketing departments continue to be a key to long-term ingredient sales.
  3. Clean Label and Simple Ingredients: Ingredients that can help simplify product profiles and label statements continue to draw a lot of customer attention. Sugar and calorie reduction are also gaining more attention in new product development.

One other trend being talked about was gluten-free products. The pace of gluten-free new product introductions has slowed considerably, as many of the earlier product intros failed to gain broad consumer acceptance. Ingredient marketers say customer companies still ask about gluten-free, but disappointing sales volumes are slowing new development.

Chefs Samples and Brand Marketing Highlight RCA Culinary Expo

The food ingredient company booths at the 2011 RCA Culinary Expo in Atlanta offered some tasty treats and some terrific brand marketing from several of the industry’s leading ingredient manufacturers.

As always, a huge variety of foods and new product samples were upon offer, always a good reason to skip lunch. Most of the samples were demonstrations of how particular ingredients performed in different applications. National Starch had a delightful Georgia peach upside down cake made with its Ultra-Tex and N-Dulge branded ingredients.

The best sample at the show by far, was Garlic King’s Black Garlic Sauce. The Garlic King booth samples included whole black garlic that was smooth, sweet and full of garlic all at the same time.  The sauce was presented on small pieces carved from perfectly presented tenderloin. It all added up to be a great sampling experience and had myself and others coming back for more.

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One of the best booth presentations with strong brand marketing was Tree Top’s “We Know Fruit.” The display featured beautiful, oversized food photography with standard logo and slogan designs.

There was no official on-site social media feed or display screens featuring online messaging similar to those at recent IFT and IBIE shows. However, several food ingredient companies used Twitter to promote their booth locations and sample offerings including Garlic KingTIC Gums and Integrative Flavors.

Research Chefs Have Fun with Food and Fish

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The opening reception of the 2011 Research Chef’s Association conference was held inside the Georgia Aquarium. Corporate chefs, culinoligists, and patrons enjoyed the night amongst the Aquarium’s huge salt water tanks. The event was sponsored by Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings and ConAgra Mills. The sponsors and nine local Atlanta restaurants put on cooking demos and served small plates to a crowd of several hundred of the toughest food critics around. A few of the offerings were instant hits and seemed to echo many of the food and ingredient trends that highlighted the chef’s conversations.

Spicetec had fun with a play on popcorn shrimp, by combining tiny rock shrimp with fresh popcorn in an intriguingly textured pesto seasoning. ConAgra Mills Chef Stephen Hodge updated a 19th century southern classic and served chicken on a waffle with maple syrup. The waffles where a 9-grain whole wheat flour blend, and the chicken had a coating made from Ultragrain white whole wheat flour. The competing textures went together superbly for a very interesting treat. The local restaurants attracted a lot of attention as well. Two standouts were Rosebud, with pickled liver toast, and the Sweet Auburn Bread Company with a charming sweet potato cheesecake.

The most curious collision of culinary trends came together with King of Pops. A food cart business that posts daily cart locations on social media sites, the King of Pops makes artisan, hand-crafted popsicles on a stick that are an absolute explosion of flavors and styles. Two of the favorites seemed to be a fiery sweet mango habanero and a delightful chocolate sea salt for yet another low-sodium flavor blend. There was a line at the King of Pops cart all night long.

The RCA Annual Conference and Product Expo is a great source of information on the leading trends in food and food ingredients, as well as a chance to see many of the latest applications and newest product offerings. Look for our follow up blog posts on the top trends and the best marketing tactics at one of the most important culinary events of the year.

Gilroy Foods & Flavors, ConAgra Mills Utilize E-mail Blast Tactic

GilroyThanksIn our April 1 post about customer events at trade shows, we note a follow-up e-mail campaign that was used by Gilroy Foods & Flavors and ConAgra Mills to further engage prospects. Two e-mail blasts were developed: one sent to those who attended and one sent to those who were unable to attend. Each message directed the prospects to the event menu list with featured ingredients, a survey and a sample order form.

Utilizing a survey is a great way to gauge prospects’ expectations, identify how well the event was received and if anything could be improved upon. These shows have been a huge success year over year, and this kind of knowledge helps marketers enhance their communications. The exclusive sample offer accompanying the survey provides an added-value offering to the prospect who liked what they tasted at the event.

RCA Show: On- and Off-Site Events

RCA HOSPITALITY SUITE ENTERTAINS ATTENDEES
Following the Expo, there were a number of events designed to engage customers directly with ingredient company executives. On-site was the RCA hospitality suite, which was sponsored by Carla’s Pasta, Gum Technology, Franklin Foods and Cryovac. While some of the sponsors used the space to showcase new food or beverage products, the always-crowded suite didn’t really provide the chance for any meaningful customer dialogue.

CFI-1271-MenuGRAZING ARIZONA OFFERS INNOVATIVE MENU IDEAS
Off-site events seemed to be the most successful at engaging customers. The most-talked-about was the private, invitation-only event at trendy Eddie’s House restaurant in Scottsdale. Billed as “Grazing Arizona,” the event was sponsored by ConAgra Mills® and Gilroy Foods & Flavors™. There, Chef Eddie and his team presented an array of innovative small plates and desserts, each of which featured applications using ConAgra Mills flours and Gilroy’s vegetables and flavors. Guests were provided with a detailed menu listing the ingredients featured in each. They could also order samples of each featured product to be sent to them. (An e-mail follow-up with this information was sent after the show, as well.) In the casual, intimate atmosphere, company execs and customers were engaged in great conversations about both the food and the festive evening.

RCA Show: Samples and Giveaways

mooseMOOSE BALLS” SAMPLES WERE A CO-BRANDING HIT
A wide range of ingredient companies captured the attention of the corporate chefs and culinary execs at the 2010 Research Chefs Association (RCA) conference in Phoenix. As usual, the chefs ate up nearly all of the food samples offered at the Expo booths and at an array of on- and off-site events.

The food sample that got the most attention and buzz were Moose Balls at the Gum Technology booth. The company promoted its Moose Balls prior to the show through press releases, postcards and its Web site. The show sample was a delicious chocolate mousse, created by Executive Chef Jason R. Gronlund, senior director of culinary at Carla’s Pasta, featuring Gum’s stabilizing ingredient. In a great co-branding collaboration, the mousse also contained yogurt cream cheese by Franklin Foods and flavorings by Kerry.

NONFOOD TACTICS SPARK INTEREST
One nonfood sample tactic that got a lot of attention was an iPod giveaway at the EFCO Products booth. It required filling out a brief survey on flavor trends for 2010. The survey got a lot of takers answering questions on savory and sweet flavors, as well as on their communication preferences. The completed surveys gave EFCO not only contact information, but customer insight for great post-show follow-up.

RCA Show: New Products and Ingredient Trends

“Clean labels,” simple ingredients and gluten-free products topped the list of “hot topics” at the 2010 Research Chefs Association (RCA) conference. Culinary execs and corporate chefs met with ingredient companies to talk about these trends, as well as an array of new products.

Interest in clean-label products and ingredients dominated the RCA seminars and Food Expo. Food companies are challenged to provide labels with recognized and trusted ingredients—aiding the consumers’ ability to read the ingredient statement and understand it. Chris Kelly of Advanced Food Systems gave an on-site interview addressing clean-label demands. An audio file of this insightful interview is available from Food Navigator.

Alongside the clean-labeling trend were a wide range of simple-ingredient products that allow chefs and manufacturers to replace multiple processing ingredients with single-ingredient solutions. Z Trim featured multifunctional fiber ingredients for emulsion and fat replacement that offers improved performance as well as a cleaner simple-ingredient product label. National Starch offers a line of texturizing starch ingredients that also offer simple-ingredient clean-label benefits. Click here to learn more about National Starch’s natural and organic ingredient offerings.

Gluten-free products, in a variety of applications, dominated the new products introduced by RCA exhibitors. ConAgra Mills introduced a new line of gluten-free flours under its whole wheat brand Ultragrain®, as well as its Sustagrain® and Ancient Grains product platforms. The foodservice chefs at the RCA show seemed very interested in just about every gluten-free product sample that was being offered.

All in all, this year’s RCA conference gave a very interesting view of what has the attention of culinary, product development and marketing executives at some of the leading food manufacturing and foodservice companies.

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