Conference Beat™ – National Restaurant Show, May 2019

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The National Restaurant Association (NRA) celebrated the 100th anniversary of its trade show, International Foodservice Marketplace, where over 2,300 exhibitors from around the world showcased their products to over 65,000 foodservice professionals.


Industry Highlights

Restaurant industry sales are projected to total $863 billion in 2019, which is equal to 4 percent of the US gross domestic product. In total, the restaurant industry has a 51% share of the food dollar.


Trend Spotting

Products for Every Consumer: From luxury products to plant-based, showcased products included: vegan breakfast sausage, gluten-free pizza crust, beer-infused dough balls and portable mini fudge-dipped cheesecakes.


Ingredient Innovation:  Noodles made from seafood, coconut-based gelato and plant-based burgers are just a few examples of food items being made with non-traditional ingredients.


Smarter Equipment: Innovations included a wash basin for bars with settings that can be adjusted through an app and robot food runners.


Breakthrough Safety Innovation:  A new hand scanner with facial recognition offers a quick and easy way for employees to check their hands for indicators of food borne illness.


Upcycling Advances: Food byproducts created from the manufacturing process are being used as ingredients in finished foods, like a soy fiber cookie made from soy milk byproducts.


Ingredient Buzz

CBD and cannabis-infused food is predicted by the National Restaurant Association to be the hottest trend to hit restaurants this year. According to a recent Culinary Visions® report on CBD & Cannabis-infused products, 42% of respondents ages 21-34 prefer products that are infused with only CBD and not THC.


Kitchen Innovation

High volume, small footprint and high tech innovations were prevalent among award winners this year, including an automatic cup sealer and a robotic smoothie system capable of producing hundreds of items an hour.


Implications for Food Marketers

Green is still Growing: There continues to be an increase in green and sustainable products. Non-plastic straws, edible utensils, disposable plates and compostable plastic bags highlight the industry’s commitment to using sustainable products.


V-Commerce: Voice enabled commerce is the latest wave of technology enabled convenience.


Simple ingredients: Manufacturers are promoting products that have ingredients consumers easily understand. Even alcohol has become cleaner with claims of no added sugar, gluten-free and simple ingredients such as rose and chamomile.


New Industry Alliance

International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) announced an alliance with the Specialty Food Association that is a collaboration to represent mainstream foodservice manufacturers and specialty food suppliers.



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