In just a few short weeks, produce industry professionals and foodservice buyers from across the country will once again gather in scenic Monterey, California, for the annual PMA Foodservice Expo. One of our favorite events of the year, Foodservice (as many in the industry refer to it), is an opportunity for produce brands to put their culinary prowess and knowledge of food trends on display—yet how many produce brands are truly optimizing their booth for the “chef” audience? The foodservice buyer audience attending this show gives brands a unique opportunity to position their booths and corresponding displays differently than they would for a larger retail audience.
So, is your company looking to stand out as one that is ready to serve a foodservice audience? Then read on to consider some exciting ways to spruce up your booth for the 2019 expo!
6 Ways to Spruce up Your PMA Foodservice Booth
Display your product the way a chef would display it in a restaurant
Are you neatly arranging your company’s products on a shelf or table with a brochure and calling it a day? Put yourself in the mind of the foodservice buyer walking the show floor—consider showing them exactly how your product will look for their customers! If your packaging isn’t the focal selling point with the foodservice audience, it might be worthwhile to keep the actual packaging behind the scenes and display your products to showcase the possibilities. For example, at a previous expo, Fresh Origins spruced up their display by adding their crystallized flowers to a wedding cake and other desserts to bring the full vision to life.
Use a theme to transform your booth into a foodservice experience
Don’t just use the same pull-up banners you would at another show—consider making your booth a destination on the show floor by transforming it into a bistro, a café, a farmer’s market or even a kitchen! 10x10 booths can offer more creative space than we give them credit for. Take this example from Duda Farm Fresh Foods, where they transformed their 10x10 space into an experience modeled after famous Napa restaurant French Laundry. Image the possibilities this type of a display can offer a brand looking to gain the attention of key foodservice customers!
Partner with a chef to cook (or just hang out!) in the booth
While this idea may seem a little more obvious to some, we are often surprised to see so few brands taking advantage of this angle during the Foodservice expo. Whether you choose to bring your corporate chef or partner with a local chef for the day, including this type of authority figure in the booth will help build credibility and leverage your expertise with buyers. Especially if the 10x10 space offers a challenge for your particular brand when it comes to sampling, it would be wise to consider inviting a celebrity chef who is an advocate for your products to spend time in your booth speaking with buyers on your behalf.
Serve on-trend samples to show foodservice buyers that your company is thinking ahead
Of course, showing the foodservice buyers exactly how your products can ultimately be enjoyed and served is the key to their hearts (and a PO!). Now is the time to start researching hot food trends for 2020 and beyond to put your forward-thinking on display. According to Datassential, 90% of consumers are interested in functional foods, yet 74% say that it’s difficult to find them in restaurants. The great news is that our industry has the answer—why not show buyers different ways your products can be part of functional “heart-healthy” or “immune-boosting” food solutions that can easily be added to a menu?
Display helpful data and compelling trends on signage
Speaking of trends, who says you can’t call trends out in a big way with your booth display? We love when produce companies add more than just taglines to their booth backdrops or pull-up banners. This is valuable real estate that you can use to draw in your target audience, so why not use it to call out the fact that “plant-based, non-dairy alternatives are driving big change,” or that “Mangosteen is a Top 10 Flavor to Watch?”
Make the ingredients the focal point
The degree to which I liked the above approach by Taylor Farms at a previous PMA Foodservice Expo left me quite surprised at myself as a produce marketer. With a retail audience, the brand should be highly elevated, but in the case of foodservice, we will concede that the brand can take a backseat to the ingredients themselves. Taylor Farms created a booth display that shows how much they understand the difference between two key buying audiences, and for that we have to give them major props.
There’s still time to make adjustments to your plans for PMA Foodservice! We hope these ideas sparked some exciting changes to your own display, and we can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up in Monterey in July.
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