Get The 411: Best Shows In 2015 & 2016


It seems like a convention, tradeshow, or conference exists for just about everything under the sun! How does one go about figuring out which event is worthy of our oh-so-precious time and money? Well, whether you are a marketing pro trying figure out how to get a little more bang from your marketing budget buck, a producer, wholesaler, or retailer looking to network, or simply a food and beverage fanatic looking to check out what is new on the horizon, this list is great for you.  It is a compilation of what we think are some of the must sees. Fair Warning: Because we are a baking and snacks company, we must admit that we have been a little narcissistic, so our recommendations are going to reflect this particular part of the industry. So, without further ado, here is the skinny on what is going on in the rest of 2015 and 2016.


Overall, Kind Of A Big Deal

FMI Connect

LogosComplements of the Food Marketing Institute, FMI Connect brings in over 15,000 people to see everyone from single owner grocery stores to multi-store supermarket chains, as well as, all the other diverse venues where food is sold. This includes companies like the big dogs you see to your left. Guess who else belongs on that list. WE DO! Horizon Food Group, parent company of Horizon Custom Bakery, was there promoting some of our sister brands: Cutie Pie, All-American Pie, and Ne-Mo’s Bakery. Truth be told, it was our first year, and it was a bit slow, which might be attributed to the fact that IDDBA was happening at the same time, but with so many big names, it is worth trying out.

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Connect 2015 – 6/9/15-6/11/15 (15,000) (Chicago, Illinois)

Learn a little more about FMI Connect here, and to see who is attending, check out this link.




Of course you never have to make up a reason to go to Vegas, but if you did, this would be the perfect one, especially if you have anything to do with convenience and fuel retailing.  This convention, held by The Association for Convenience and Fuel, has over 24,000 attendants each year and covers an almost overwhelming 400,000 sq. ft. space that is filled with people interested in what the SCFR has segmented into these 6 categories: Fuel Equipment & Services, Food Equipment & Foodservice Programs, Candy/Snacks, Facility Development & Store Operations, Merchandise and Technology.  This is a killer plan if you want to sell, buy, or learn a little more about convenience store foods. Also, we too will be styling out a booth with delicious treats at this show, so again please come tastes some scrumptious (yes, we said scrumptious!) bites at Booth 4175. If you can’t make it to Vegas this time, don’t fret you will have an opportunity to check it out in Georgia

NACS Show 2015-The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing – 10/11/15-10/14/15 (24,000) (Las Vegas, Nevada)

NACS Show 2016-The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing – 10/18/16-10/21/16 (24,000) (Atlanta, Georgia)

Learn a little more about the NACS Show here.

Fancy Food Show

This monster show has an estimated 25,000 people, including 2,400 exhibitors from about 50 countries.  This show like the other two does cater to retail, including C-Stores; however, it does venture also venture into the restaurant realm a little more than the others, attracting chefs, restaurateurs, & like-media. The event is held 2 times a year, so if you can’t make the show at the end of this month in New York, don’t fret. There will be another in San Francisco come January. If you buy into this show, do it with the ease of knowing that it is for a good cause; the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT), the body responsible for this glorious event, uses some of the funds to develop & support the cause for hunger relief. So, what else does this show have to offer? The Specialty Food Association can boast that it:

In addition to the specialty food exhibit hall, both shows feature:

  • Over 20 educational seminars.
  • The “Business Builders 1 to 1” program, which connects distributors and foodservice buyers with specialty food exhibitors.
  • Media outreach services
  • sofi Award Ceremony


Fancy Food Show, Summer – 6/28/15-6/30/15 (25,000) (New York, New York)

Fancy Food Show, Winter – 1/17/16-1/19/16 (20,000) (San Francisco, California)

To learn more about who is attending and the floor plan, follow this link.

Not Until I’ve Had My Coffee

Coffee Fest & The SCAA Expo

Coffee Fest, or shall I say fests, are held 3 times a year and are strategically located in New York, Chicago, & Seattle, bringing in a total of more than 12,000 people. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), on the other hand, is once a year and brings in over 12,000 people (including exhibitors) and is held in Georgia this year. These events showcase just about everything to do with coffee from specialty equipment, products to use in coffee, products to use with coffee, & retail coffee itself. They both also offer similar benefits, like:

  • Education- Skill building, Coffee Education, & Coffeehouse Seminars
  • Competitions- Latte Art, Best Coffee House, Best Espresso (See for specific awards: SCAA & Coffee Fest)
  • Networking Opportunities
  • Certification programs – Barista Certification (same at both shows)

Coffee Fest Chicago 2015 – 6/5/15-6/7/15 (4,000) (Chicago, Illinois)

Coffee Fest Portland 2015 – 10/23/15-10/25/15 (4,000) (Portland, Oregon)

Coffee Fest New York 2016 – 3/11/16-3/13/16 (4,000) (New York, New York)

Specialty Coffee Association Of America (SCAA) Exposition – 4/14/16 (10,000) (Atlanta, Georgia)

Baking Specific


The IDDBA, a.k.a the International Dairy.Deli.Bakery Association, holds an annual show that features over 1800 booths in an almost 10,000 square foot space. Unfortunately, you did miss out on the 2015 show that was held this last week in Atlanta, but this gives you plenty of time to get ready for next years festivities in Houston. Trust us; if your in the baking biz, this is definitely one of the events to attend! Colleagues reported that this last show was a hit and turnout is growing. So, what does this show have to offer you may ask? Well, just about everything. There will be education seminars & discussions on research, marketing, consumer behavior, new products, and current trends and the business environment. It doesn’t stop there; the huge food expo allows participants to interact, enjoy the brands, and see new products and ideas. Not to mention all the networking benefits you will be getting during this soiree. With that said, if you are a exec, buyer, manager, manufacturer, or lie somewhere in the distribution channel when it comes to products involving dairy, deli, or bakery, it’s time to grab your pass.


If you are looking for all that is baking and snacks, The International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) is the show for you. However, it only happens every 3 years, so you might want to consider jumping at the chance to sign up soon for their 2016 Las Vegas show. Here you will be able to walk over 500,000 square feet of show and mingle with almost 20,000 of the industry’s baking professionals. Attendees include respected names such as: Sara Lee, Kellogg, Kraft, Dawn Foods, Little Caesar’s, Nestle, and more. Check out this short video for a little look into IBIE.

International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) 2015 – 6/7/15-6/9/15 (8,700) (Atlanta, Georgia)

International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) 2016 – 6/5/16-6/7/16 (8,700) (Houston, Texas)

International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) 2016 – 10/8/16-10/11/16 (20,000) (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Act Natural

Natural Products Expo


With the increase in demand for natural food products, it has become undeniably important for snack and baking companies to take a look at their product line and consider more natural additions; that is if they haven’t already. In response to that same demand, many natural food products, companies, and ingredients have popped up. This expo is the perfect place for people from each side of the equation to get together and share information, find new products and ideas, or acquire equipment and ingredients. Are you looking for organic chocolate? Thinking about making a new gluten free bar and want to scope out the competition? Are you interested in baking with hemp products this season and are looking for the latest and greatest in the market? These are some of the many reasons to come.

Exhibitor List

Natural Products Expo East 2015 – 9/16/15-9/19/15 (25,000) (Baltimore, Maryland)

Natural Products Expo West 2015 – 3/9/16-3/13/16 (71,000) (Anaheim, California) – WHOA!

School & Nutrition – Hand-In-Hand

Let’s not for get about our little ones! Increased awareness about the importance of good nutrition for children has fueled a shift in school lunch meals and snacks.  More schools, especially the ones that are actively working with Healthier US & My Plate requirements, are interested in finding snacks that meet certain nutritional requirements. Long gone are the days of school issued ding-dongs and bologna. Now, schools are supplying and promoting whole wheat, less processed foods, and more natural and organic bites. Listed below are a couple of the shows that are perfect for the school nutrition sector.


The School Nutrition Association puts on a wonderful conference each year in a different location called the National Annual Conference (NAC).  Although the expected audience is only 3,500, it attracts some of the most important and influential players in the school nutrition field. The show floor will be graced with the presence of heavy hitters, like Dr. Pepper, Snapple Group, Jennie-O’s, & Kelloggs (exhibitor list). Not only will you get to see the latest products coming out, but you will also have a plethora of education sessions to choose from: Nutrition, Operations, Administrative, Marketing, Certifications, and USDA updates. If you plan on attending the July 2015 NAC in Salt Lake City and get hungry for some fresh fruit, come by our booth, 2707, and enjoy some of our fresh Fruit Pockets (sister brand of Horizon Custom Bakery).


National Annual Conference (NAC) 2015- School Nutrition Association – 7/12/15-7/15/15 (3,500) (Salt Lake City, Utah)

National Annual Conference (NAC) 2016- School Nutrition Association – 7/10/16-7/13/16 (3,500) (San Antonio, Texas)

See You Soon

It is difficult to decide what shows deserve our attention and which ones are going to fit our needs, so, we hope that this was helpful in making a few of those decisions. Of course, we understand that not everyone in the food business is in the snack and bakery business, so here is a comprehensive list of conferences and conventions happening in the U.S. from now until 2020, including the beverage industry. Again, please come visit us if you happen to be at the National Annual Conference in July (Booth 2707) or the NACS show in Vegas in October (4175), and as always, we are here to help in any of your baking needs.

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