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FSMA Top2Top and The CRFA SHOW

13 Mar

March is an exciting month for those of us in the foodservice industry with plenty of trade shows to keep us busy. While we are still in the first half of the month, CHD Expert has been raking up the air miles with separate trips to Orlando, Florida and Toronto, Canada. In a quick 24hours we had to say good to our flip flops and hello to our snow boots!

The FSMA Top2Top conference is put on by the Foodservice Sales & Marketing Association. This national trade association works with food & equipment manufactures, vendors and sales agencies to help grow their businesses.  This year’s show was a little down in attendance, but there was still a lot of good information shared during the sessions and a lot of solid networking.

The CRFA Show or the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association Show is Canada’s Foodservice Event of the Year.  The show is held at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto and if you have not been in Toronto, it is worth a trip. The growth in the city is quite impressive, and down town Toronto skyline is full of cranes and promise for the future of the city.

Relationship building is critical in business, especially the foodservice industry. Food & Equipment Manufacturers use our data in a lot of different ways and we are always eager to introduce our products to businesses in different regions.  Below are some photos that we took at the two events. Check them out and consider joining us next year.

FSMA Top2Top


CHD Expert Releases New Data About the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Industry

26 Sep

New data available from leading foodservice database and analytics company, CHD Expert reports on the status of the restaurant and lodging industry in the nation’s fourth most populous state, Florida.

With the 2013 Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show taking place later this month in Orlando, foodservice database and analytics firm, CHD Expert reports on Florida’s current lodging and restaurant landscape.

With great weather, world-class amusement parks, natural wonders, and over 1,000 miles of coastline, Florida is a top destination for domestic and international travelers. People come to Florida looking for a nice time and according to CHD Expert’s latest data, Florida leads the country with 367 active resorts, accounting for over 20% of the Nations Resorts. By comparison, the state with the second highest number of resorts in the nation is California with 179, accounting for 10 percent of the national total.

Holding the third place, behind California and Texas, the state of Florida hosts over 6% of the hospitality and lodging market in the US. There are a total of 4,323 different lodging facilities in the state of Florida, 14 percent of which have a restaurant as part of the facility, much higher than the national average of 7.8 percent. Contrarily there are 2,632 hotels and motels in the state that do not include a restaurant, of which over 29 percent offer a complimentary breakfast to their patrons.

In terms of restaurant industry landscape, Florida has 44,811 total restaurants, which makes up 6.5 percent of the total restaurants in the United States of America. Figure 1: Florida Restaurant Breakdown by Market Segment compared to US Market

Figure 1 Florida Restaurant Breakdown by Market Segment compared to US Market

Figure 1 Florida Restaurant Breakdown by Market Segment compared to US Market

Florida is a family destination identified by its high percentage of Family Style restaurants. About 12 percent of the restaurants in the state of Florida fall into the “Family Style” segment, defined as a full service restaurant that does not serve alcohol with an average check of $6 to $12. In comparison, this is a much higher percentage than other large states like California (10 percent), New York (10 percent) and Texas (9 percent).

Florida hosts 11.4 percent of the Steak and Seafood restaurants in the United States, and Steak and Seafood restaurants make up 3.8 percent of the Florida market. Varied Menu is most common menu type in Florida, making up 20.5 percent of Florida’s menu type mix, followed by Pizzerias, which make up 10.1 percent. These menu types are similar to the US footprint in these menu type categories. Figure 2: Top 10 Menu Types in Florida Compared to US Market.

Figure 2 Top 10 Menu Types in Florida Compared to US Market

Figure 2 Top 10 Menu Types in Florida Compared to US Market

Florida also hosts a very high percentage of the US menu type totals in Latin and Caribbean menu types, although the numbers of these ethnic restaurants are not substantial compared to the more common menu types. Figure 3: Florida Top 10 Highest Percent of US Menu Types

Figure 3 Florida Top 10 Highest Percent of US Menu Types

Figure 3 Florida Top 10 Highest Percent of US Menu Types

Similar to the US Market, most Florida restaurants are independent (restaurants that have between 1-9 total units) and not part of a major chain. However in the full service restaurant segment, Florida has a slightly higher percentage of Chain Restaurants than the national average. Figure 4: Full Service Restaurants US Market Vs. Florida Market

Figure 4 Full Service Restaurants US Market Vs. Florida Market

Figure 4 Full Service Restaurants US Market Vs. Florida Market

Other fortuitous news for aspiring restaurateurs in Florida, is that 49.81 percent of restaurants in Florida have been in business for 5+ years. With the difficult times in the past for restaurants, Florida is coming back fiercely, with over 4400 new openings in the past 12 months.

When evaluating the average check cost in Florida, 23.8 percent of the time the bill ranges between $15-20. The check exceeds $50 less than one percent of the time and under $5 approximately 6 percent of the time. The majority of restaurant menu types that earn over $5 million annually are Varied, Italian and Seafood.

“Florida is a great place to visit and this is apparent when you look at how the states economy is impacted by the tourism industry,” said Nicolas Watson, Global Marketing Manager of CHD Expert. “With Florida’s popular resort culture and wide range of lodging accommodations, this state is designed to cater to the tourism industry. This makes Florida a prime target for businesses who want to sell products to the restaurant and lodging industries, and this recent data helps make the sales process more lucrative and effective.”

To access the most up to date lodging and restaurant information on Florida in its entirety, please contact Nicolas Watson:

The Southwest Foodservice Expo: Why we are looking forward to going to Texas

28 May

Much more than a tradeshow, the Southwest Foodservice Expo is the largest foodservice event of its kind in the region. With local foodservice sales projected to reach $55 billion in 2013, this foodservice expo provides an excellent opportunity to network with the decision makers of the Southwest foodservice industry, as well as check out the latest and greatest in the market.

Held in the Dallas Convention Center on June 23th and 24th, the Southwest Foodservice Expo will host culinary showcases with the likes of chef Robert Irvine, host of Food Network’s Restaurant:Impossible and chef Tyler Stone. There will also be chef competitions, an Education Idea Center, and the opportunity to check out the most innovative products and services in the country.

One of the things that we find the most interesting about the Southwest Foodservice Expo is its Experts Forum. These one-on-one, or small group chats with some of the foodservice industry leading experts, will provide restauanteurs tips on how to make their restaurants more profitable.  Another interesting happening this year is the Northwest Wine Expo, co-located with the Expo, which will showcase a diversity of wines, trends and leading voices from the rapidly growing wine region.

And as every year, the event not to be missed during the Expo will be the Texas Restaurant Association’s President’s Gala. In the iconic celebration, the the who’s who of the Texas foodservice industry celebrates its yearly achievements and induct Texas restaurateurs into the Hall of Honor, the TRA’s most prestigious award.

For easy navigation of the Southwest Foodservice Expo, download their free app and for more details, visit their website.

National Restaurant Association Show 2013 Recap – Our Journey on Day 2

20 May

Author: Nicolas Watson

As we’ve been saying for months now, the NRA Show is one of our favorite foodservice industry events of the year. The NRA Show brings exhibitors from all over the country that come to showcase the latest and greatest in foodservice trends and innovation. Because the this show is so big, we literally feel like we are on a journey as we make our way around the exhibition floor, meeting new people and companies and saying hello to old friends and colleagues. Plus, we also had a quick run in with the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel who was busy checking out all of the excitement that the #NRAShow has to offer! (Check out our picture in the gallery below.)

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to attend this year, we wanted to share a recap of our journey through the trade show floor on Day 2. We have some great pictures and a videos that will give you a sense of the magnitude of brillance that this show brings to Chicago. But first, here is a snapshot of me, Nicolas Watson, marketing manager at CHD Expert, with the team at Cookina, high-quality non-stick cooking tools.

Idaho Potatoes at the #NRAShow

Cookina Company #NRAShow

One of the most impressive demonstrations that we saw today was by Blendtec. They did a demo of their blender that blends at 20,000 RPMs and to illustrate it’s strength  they took a wood rake and fed it to the blender! Watch this. It’s really something that you haven’t seen before! But, please don’t try this at home!

Lastly, here are a few snap shots from some other booths that we stopped by through out the day. Oh, and did we mention how delicious the Sweet Gordita S’More Burrito was from Maria and Ricardos? Take a look at pictures from the floor of the trade show.

Just in Time for The 2013 National Restaurant Association Show, CHD Expert Launches New Menu Type Segmentation For Their Foodservice Data, Web-Based Query Tool, Easy2Find

8 May

Leading food service data and analytics company CHD Expert, releases a new menu type filter allowing for more granular segmentation of restaurants by specific menu type.

Author: Nicolas Watson

Just in time for the 2013 National Restaurant Association Show, Chicago-based foodservice database, and analytics firm, CHD Expert, expands their available menu filters allowing for foodservice businesses to more narrowly target unique restaurants with their sales efforts.

As American food culture grows in popularity, themed and diverse restaurants are now opening on a regular basis. Ten years ago, few would have ever imagined dining at a Japanese Moroccan fusion restaurant or a restaurant specializing in meatballs, but now diverse ethnic menus are all the rage. While a diverse restaurant scene has been a treat for Americans’ taste buds, this presents a challenge for foodservice industry professionals, who are constantly trying to identify and pin point these relentlessly growing menu segments.

CHD Expert’s web-based query tool, Easy2FIND, provides a solution for foodservice industry professionals who need to sell and market to the ever changing restaurant landscape, and this new set of filters allows for deeper insight into a wide-range of less common menu types.

With Easy2FIND, more granular filters are now available for many emerging Asian and African menu types, including but not limited to: Malaysian, Cambodian, Pakistani, Tunisian, Lebanese, Russian, and many more. This is in addition to the already available “standard” menu types like Chinese, Barbecue, Vegetarian, Kosher, etc. Furthermore, this new segmentation capability also allows for standard menu types to be further dissected. For example, the common ‘Italian’ segment can be filtered to identify ‘pizzerias’ within the Italian segment.

“The restaurant industry is extremely competitive and complex,” said Nicolas Watson, Marketing Manager at CHD Expert. “As consumer pallets continue to evolve, restaurateurs, chefs and entrepreneurs tenaciously push the envelope to introduce exotic, unique menus. And while consumers reap the benefits, this becomes incredibly challenging and cumbersome for someone who is selling a product like Asian Chili Oil. With these new Easy2FIND filters, foodservice manufacturers and distributors now have a much deeper level of insight on their target markets, making their sales and marketing process much more efficient. We have already received some excellent feedback from our beta testing, and are very excited to roll out this tool in time for the National Restaurant Association Show.”

To schedule a demo of the Easy2FIND tool, and see if you qualify for a seven day trial, please contact Brad Bloom.

NRA Show Tips from CHD Expert

2 May

The NRA Show 2013 – the largest and most important foodservice industry showcase is getting even closer – just over two weeks away now.

In our previous post, we discussed how technology has changed the conference experience for the attendee, exhibitor, entrepreneur or food enthusiast. This week, we canvassed some opinions from some of our top CHD Expert foodservice consultants, who are NRA Show veterans, and they provided some great advice about how to make the most of your four days at the center of the food industry’s universe.

How many NRA shows has CHD Expert attended?

CHD Expert visits about 15 food service shows and conferences every year across the US and Canada. We have been attending the NRA show since 2006 and this will be our 8th time at this event.

What was the most memorable NRA Show you have attended?

The show gets better every year and last year was our busiest yet! We had over 35 different in person meetings with prospective and current clients. There was also an excellent networking event hosted by P&G and Kelloggs at the House of Blues, where Huey Lewis and the News performed!

 Are there any exhibitors’ booths you would recommend checking out?

At previous shows Rational has done a fantastic job with a live demonstration of their products with live chefs, very fun to watch and sample. Also in years past Daymark also has had a “must-visit” booth. They have a fun staff and have had different types of competitions and games where attendees can win prizes. Food is plentiful at the NRAShow, as you would expect, and there are samples of every food you can imagine from everywhere in the world. So if all else fails, just follow your nose!  

What is the best advice for first time attendees in Chicago?

After visiting seven consecutive NRA shows we’ve had some great experiences and picked up some valuable tips to help the experience be as smooth, productive and tasty as possible!

  • Plan your time – the show is very large, bigger than you would imagine so make sure you leave enough time to get around to visit all the exhibitors and events or else you’ll be disappointed that you didn’t see it all.
  • Take a shuttle – Shuttles are one of the best ways to get around Chicago and only pick up at certain hotels so there are less stops than a regular service.  If you do take a cab to and from the show, try to leave before the majority of the attendees as the demand for taxis is similar to an airports – you could be waiting for over an hour!
  • Don’t Eat beforehand – Why would you want to eat before visiting the biggest food industry showcase in the world? There are more samples and demonstrations here than anywhere else and there is ample opportunity to fill up at various points during the day and evening. Like the best restaurants, buzz soon gets around about the tastiest samples at various booths so make sure you take advantage while you can.
  • Charge Up! – If you are bringing a laptop or smartphone to the convention then make sure it is fully charged overnight because it’s going to be a long day. Remember to bring your charger with you to take advantage of any spare outlets and top off whenever you can. Also remember to check out our tech-savvy NRAShow tips post from last week.

NRA Trade Show Tips for the Digital Age

25 Apr

The annual National Restaurant Association Show is the most important restaurant industry event of the year, and we are geared up and ready for the action. Every attendee or exhibitor is a potential contact or client and every connection could yield the vital conversation or referral that could make the difference to your business’s bottom line.

Conference success has and always will revolve around your personality and offering, but the conference experience itself has changed more in the past five years than the previous 20, thanks to the advent of digital and mobile technology.

While many have predicted the death of the humble business card, it is still the primary method of introduction, and the ritual of exchanging them at conferences goes on, but sometimes with a digital twist. There are many smartphone apps such as Cardmunch or Bump that allow details to be exchanged and automatically uploaded to your contact database along with email, images and weblinks and these real time updates add deeper levels of insight on your newly made contacts.

Techsavvy conference goers create specific cards especially for the event they will be traveling to. They will create a video or other fun or interesting content in advance and link them to a QR code. By placing the QR code on the business card, it now becomes a multimedia gateway that people can view using the same phone they are uploading your card details too!

You may want to start incorporating either your company’s or your personal social media addresses on your business card from now on too. If you make a good impression and people want to connect with you then they will invariably look for your Linkedin profile or Twitter handle before your website, so you should make it as easy as possible to connect to you. We do!

Another thing to consider is that Twitter has transformed the conference arena. Before, unless you were a keynote speaker, it was practically impossible to speak to a large number of attendees simultaneously, whereas now one perfectly timed tweet will get you all that attention in a moment, along with many new followers. Virtually every conference has a #hashtag attached to it so you can follow all conversations related to it.

Many presenters will upload their presentations, slides and videos to Twitter after they speak so you can actually concentrate on their words and ideas rather than note-taking. That said, the retweeted quote is the new applause and a speaker knows they are doing a good job if their knockout line is greeted with a thousands fingertaps rather than applause.  Watch out for the many plasma screens around the venue exhibitors and the NRA will use to show the live Twitter stream for the conference – a great way to get noticed and introduce yourself.

With this in mind, its good practice to pre-schedule some social media posts using the conference hashtag to appear during the conference. This will save you the job of finding material to share when you could be networking and enjoying the event!

Many of the top conferences including the NRA Show have also fully embraced the mobile future by producing specific apps just for their events.  The NRA Show’s can be found here – that contain schedules, maps, social media links and much more information that you can have instantly rather than carrying a bulky conference program pack – although it might be worth getting one as a souvenir because they will be disappearing quicker than the free food samples on offer!

We hope that we’ve outlined some new digital ways to connect with others at a trade show. If you have specific questions or want to reach out to us for more information, please feel free to do so. Email us at We hope to see you there!

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