Magazines Archives - 2008 July
Restaurant show unfazed by economic slowdown in the US
Story 4 - NRA Show Overview
Not even a recession in the US could turn away more than 71,000 visitors from the National Restaurant Associations annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, held from 17-20 May 2008 at the McCormick Place in Chicago. RETAIL ASIAs Jennee Grace U Rubrico joined the throng and got a first glimpse of new products and future trends.
NOT even the slump in the US economy could stop the National Restaurant Association (NRA) from staging a soldout trade show this year, the third time in a row that it has been fully taken up.
At the annual NRAs Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, the 621,000sqf exhibit space was fully booked, with more than 2,200 exhibitors showcasing their products and services to 71,500 industry professionals from 115 countries.
In an interview with RETAIL ASIA, NRA senior vice-president for convention Mary Pat Heftman said that the most recent instalment of the the show exceeded expectations. Its been outstanding. We had a sold-out show thats bigger than its been in the past decades. Weve had international guests
from over 100 countries, she said.
She noted that trade visitors flocked to the NRA show because of its value proposition. What
makes it unique is that its about the future we talk about trends and they get a first glimpse of [newly launched] products, she elaborated.
Heftman admitted that the slowdown in the US economy stemming from the mortgage sub-prime
crisis might have weighed on the show, but added that it was felt more in terms of the number of people being sent to the expo rather than on the companies support for the event.
Its not that the companies didnt come, but that they might have sent fewer people. Its understandable that folks budget for travel tightened a little bit, she said, ... but the commitment is
Trade shows are the only venue for buyers and suppliers to get together ... nothing takes away the value of face-to-face contact and to try to really reach out to partners to find solutions.
Dr Dewitt Ashby, director for trade shows at the US National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, noted that group contingents have not been affected by the economic slow-down. He said: Were about the same size as last years. Maybe it will be more of a factor next year, but not this year.
The NASDA-sponsored American Food Fair pavilions exhibitors showcased all aspects of national and regional cuisines and speciality foods. The show attracted many international visitors, of
whom 181 were from China. NASDA, Dr Ashby said, facilitated the Chinese groups visa processing. We also have visitors from Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The total number of registrants seem similar to last years, he added. These trade visitors, Dr Ashby said, were either importers or people from the market who have a lot of potential buying power.
Among the states that showcased their goods under the NASDA banner were Michigan, Illinois, New York and Minnesota, which Dr Ashby said are very strong exporters to Asia (see related story, US firms keen on Asia).
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