2012 National Restaurant Association Show Recap

11 May
Enterning the NRA Show

The entrance to the NRA Show

Just like in years past, the 2012 NRA show was a huge success and we are glad to have been able to network with thousands of foodservice operators from around the globe. Like many things in life the show came and went fast and it’s a good thing we gathered business cards and took notes.

As our CHD Expert team is full of NRA Show veterans, we wanted to do a recap of some of the observations that we noticed about this years show, and how the 2012 NRA show differed from those of years past.

First thing we noticed upon entry was that this year’s show was PACKED! Of course the NRA Show always has a good attendance, but in 2012 it appears that all booths were sold, which isn’t always the case. So not only were there more attendees but also more exhibitors.

Speaking of the exhibitors, the companies who were exhibiting this year were much more diversified than those of years past. Of course we always expect to see traditional manufacturing companies, consumer packaged good brands, restaurant groups, etc. But this year there was a much larger presence of technology companies and international companies.

Whether it was a company offering different apps or a social media agencies, the tech industry was ever-present at this years show.  Additionally there was a noticeable amount of exhibitors from different parts of Europe, Asia and Latin America, which goes to show that the NRA Show is truly a global attraction.

We also noticed a change in the attendee demographic as well, which was also much more diverse. In addition to all of the professionals from different parts of the world, this year’s show was also attended by a lot of food service industry wannabes. Be it culinary students looking to learn about the industry or foodies looking to sample their favorite foods, there were a lot of people from the general public who weren’t dressed like making business contacts was their main priority.

One additional thing that we were glad to see was how the NRA restructured some of the logistics of the show. It appeared that they grouped like industries consolidating all of the coffee companies, manufacturing companies, tech companies, etc. While this made more logistical sense for the attendees, it likely created a higher sense of urgency between competitors.

However, having competitors battle over consumers’ attention is ultimately good for innovation and the economy, so we welcome the change. Additionally, we at CHD Expert are still the only company who collects and manages data specifically for the away from home foodservice industry and we are proud to stand alone in this segment of the industry.

If you too attended the 2012 NRA Show and have any other observations you would like to share, please leave it in the comments section below. Or if you didn’t have the opportunity to attend the show, feel free to get in touch with us and we will gladly provide you an update about foodservice marketing.


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