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20/20 Vision on IDDBA 20

By Mike Eardley posted 06-21-2019 14:30



If I could only use a single word to describe #IDDBA19, it would be optimism.

That optimism may have been personified by the inspiring storytelling of Michael J. Fox, who told us "Every circumstance provides choices and opportunity." After he finished addressing our general session, the crowd didn't just come to their feet for a standing ovation once, but they did so twice. People called the speech inspiring; Tonya Blomberg of Give and Go Prepared Foods went even further: "Inspiring is an understatement!"


Bringing our members inspiration is a huge part of what we do at IDDBA and at our annual show. Why? Because by inspiring each other to do better, we can make the old adage "a rising tide lifts all boats" true. By sharing ideas, inspiration, and innovation we can arm each other for the greatest opportunity for success.

At IDDBA, we believe in looking forward. Looking to the future, together, we have the chance to make the best we can of it. Having a positive vision for the future is one of the best ways to achieve great things. When I became President and CEO of IDDBA, I talked about an idea - what I call our industry's "Six Influencers" - that I believe can be like a beacon, helping to bring us the focus that guides us to a bright future.

Still, we should always take the time to look back as well.

During his 2005 Commencement address at Stanford, Steve Jobs said

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." 

So let's take a few moments and look back at #IDDBA19. 


On the first day of the show our Chairman of the Board, @Rick Findlay of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, presented Rick Goodman the 2019 Chairman's Award for his lifetime of service and dedication to our industry. As I think about how much he has done for the industry in positions at ConAgra, Smithfield, and Monogram and as a former Chairmen of IDDBA, and how much he is going to continue to do moving forward at Eddy Packaging, I like to think how looking back and looking forward are perfectly captured in his receiving this honor. It was a fitting way to begin such a successful show.

This was our largest show yet, with a record-breaking attendance of more than 10,000. Perhaps the most dramatic consequence of that is something I'm very proud of. Our exhibitors bring a lot of food to Orlando, and we do our best to help the community near us when we do a show: by show's end, in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, #IDDBA19 provided 176,315 pounds of food - eighteen trucks - for those in need in Florida. In addition, our New Products Showcase bustled with over 250 contributing exhibitors and our Monday reception celebrating What's in Store Live quickly filled to the brim with people excited to eat, drink, mingle, and meet the incredible Laila Ali.


Speaking of What's in Store Live, we're incredibly pleased with the feedback we've gotten about this part of our show. We held sixteen workshops and four other events there over the course of the show, with an incredible variety of information for attendees. To name just a few of the well-received workshops, Paolo Tanara came from Parma, Italy to talk with us about prosciutto in detail, Jonna Parker of IRI gave us the update on trends in deli meat and prepared foods, and Michael Landis ACS CCP, CCSE filled the seats as he shared with us numerous cheese pairing workshops. As the show came to a close, our first Canadian competitor was crowned a champion in our 24th Annual Cake Decorating Challenge; congratulations to Joni Graham of Carmen's Independent CityMarket from Toronto, Ontario! 

It was a great beginning for this new chapter of our show. One publication shared with us their appreciation of the aspirational aspect of What's in Store Live and how it provided strategies for success that retailers could actualize in their stores. We plan on making this just the beginning for What's in Store Live, and are looking carefully at making next year's event even better.


After having looked back, let's look back forward to the future: #IDDBA20.

We're going to be taking everything we've learned in Orlando, adding it to all of our previous year's experience, and taking our show to the crossroads of America for the first time in Indianapolis. We've already started the preparation for the event, and I just know that it's going to be our best yet!