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QR Codes Grow Up at Food Trade Shows

The use of QR codes at food ingredient trade shows and manufacturer expos has increased dramatically over the past year. Mobile apps offered and promoted by the actual show presenters and producers have proliferated. More mobile use overall has increased the audience demand for apps like QR code readers, and as a result, more food ingredient marketers have begun to use the Quick Response codes to drive traffic to their traditional websites and to new mobile sites and landing pages.

Last June, the 2011 IFT Show in New Orleans showcased IFT’s latest generation trade show app with IFT11, which allowed users to access all the conference information, schedules and literature on one easy platform. Yet despite featuring convenient conference access and tools for managing appointments and exhibitor contact info, the IFT11 app only attracted about 500 users from a conference with over 15,000 attendees.

One reason for the low numbers may be slow adaptation of mobile app technology by many corporate IT customers. Our firm introduced a QR code promotion at IFT with limited results. Many food company executive told us that their corporate IT department didn’t support iPhone or smart phone technologies, or told us, “My IT guys won’t let us have apps like QR code readers.”

However, at the August PMA Food Service Conference and Expo in Monterey, it seemed like nearly everybody had a smart phone with a QR code reader app. The produce industry has been more active in using bar code and QR code technologies on their packaging and in their traceability systems, so it makes sense that there would be greater adoption of mobile technology in the produce channel.

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IFT and PMA, and nearly every other food expo this year, have also seen an increasing number of exhibitor booths using QR codes on their trade show literature and even on their booth designs. Charles Shafae, of dProduce Man Software from California, has a large QR code prominently displayed on his booth. dProduce Man Software sells packaging codes and software for the produce industry. Shafae said that having the QR code on his booth helped customers “go straight to all our information online.”

As adaptation of mobile technologies continues to grow among executives and professionals in the food ingredient industry, the use of QR codes, landing pages and other mobile apps will continue to gain traction and quickly grow to become important marketing communication tools for ingredient marketers.

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