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Want food tradeshow success? Consider these four tips from buyers

  • 2.5 min read

Navigating Canada’s food processing sector can be challenging, especially in a virtual space. Events like trade shows can often provide an ideal forum to meet colleagues, make new contacts, get your product out to future buyers and purchase new equipment.

At a recent FCC Virtual Event, two veteran food business professionals, Jay Ashton and Martin Kouprie, sat down with Dana McCauley, a seasoned business executive with extensive experience in the food business. Ashton is the national business resources and brand activation manager for Sysco Canada, and Kouprie is a consulting chef and professor at Humber and Conestoga Colleges.

Together, they offered the following tips for trade show success as a buyer:

1. Keep an open mind

I love finding those gems. Sometimes, it’s a new contact. Other times, it may be a sample of a new food.

Trade shows are an excellent opportunity to explore.

“I love those little treasure hunts or finding those gems that we find in the shows,” Ashton says. It’s important to go with an open mind and no preconceived expectations on what those gems may be. Sometimes the treasure is a new contact. Other times, it may be a sample of a new food.

2. Samples are king, but they cost

In the realm of online trade shows and conferences, food samples are obviously challenging. In many cases, food processors or manufacturers send food samples to potential clients and conference attendees after the virtual trade show. It is, after all, a world where tasting, touching and playing with food are part of the sales process. A gift basket sent to a valued contact after a trade show could end up fostering a valued partnership.

3. Have all the answers

Trade show attendees like Kouprie aren’t there for the food samples, but rather the equipment and supplies. With his annual business budget established before he even hits the trade show floor, and purchases mapped out for the year ahead, trade shows are the shopping centre for research. Vendors should be sure to have warranty information, production location and company support details on-hand for shoppers like Kouprie.

“If I can't get the details, I know that they're not seriously in business.  That’s the message I get,” Kouprie says.

4. If you want to go big, be prepared

Some food processors consider Sysco Canada the epitome of success in the sector, and Ashton says trade shows are typical forums to explore possible new distribution agreements. Most critical to a partnership with Sysco is the ability to supply the company with their minimum required product volume.  

Food processors should consider that Sysco distributes to most restaurants across the country, and needs to maintain a continuous, readily available food supply, sometimes the same day as it’s ordered. If that’s in the realm of possibilities for a food processor, there may be the opportunity for an agreement with the distributor.

For more tradeshow insider tips, check out a video of their full conversation.