Every year, small businesses have the dilemma of choosing the best industry trade show to hawk their wares and capture new customers. The National Restaurant Show typically captures a slice of their marketing budget. The NRA brings together the entire industry under one roof and one exhibits and attends with the goal of making new connections and seeing what is new in the marketplace. Over the years we have exhibited at the show, but in the recent past, we have chosen to forgo the experience of exhibiting and enjoy talking with customers and friendly competitors. This year, however, the pickings were slim. There were fewer customers and exhibitors and fewer connections made.
I enjoy the trends. I like to see what is happening and what might be new. This year, I found savory food items were more popular than baked goods or sweets. Among the beverage category, bloody mary’s were still popular, and I found a ginger ale company based out of New York, Fresh Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost to be delicious. But some well know co-packers were absent. I enjoy going to their stands and talking about the industry and how business is, so I was sad to see they had passed on exhibiting at the show.
Among beverages, one key trend stood out – Iced Tea. Whether they were demonstrating equipment, showcasing small wares or just sampling product, iced tea was everywhere. And it is easy to understand why. It’s a popular beverage, easy to prepare, low cost and yields high profit margins. Now that’s an easy trend to follow.