From the thumping music and colorful graphics that define keynote sessions to the screens, samples and signs that beckon people to stop at exhibit hall booths, there’s nothing like a trade show to energize an industry.
As issues like e-commerce, digital media, automation, shrink and specialty food trends compete for grocers’ attention, organizers are readying a slate of conferences designed to help attendees devise strategies over the coming year to thrive in a swiftly changing business environment.
Here’s a look at some of the key grocery industry events on tap for 2024.
NRF’s “Big Show”
Jan. 14-16 at the Javits Center in New York
The National Retail Federation’s annual conference is a signature international event for the retail industry, drawing tens of thousands of attendees to New York City to share ideas, gather industry intel and show off products.
The 2024 version of the “Big Show” is slated to feature around 1,000 exhibitors, 450 presenters and 170 sessions spanning three days. Speakers on the schedule include Target Chief Supply Chain & Logistics Officer Gretchen McCarthy, Afresh Technologies CEO Matt Schwartz and Wegmans Senior Vice President of IT Smita Katakwar.
The show will include a new Foodservice Innovation Zone with more than 50 food technology exhibitors and immersive activations like artificial intelligence-powered kitchen equipment, contactless ordering and fresh food vending.
FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference
Jan. 18-21 at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Marco Island, Florida
Every winter, FMI — The Food Industry Association brings together senior-level executives from grocery companies and CPGs to talk shop in a casual setting. The conference will include a networking component known as the Strategic Executive Exchange, which matches leaders of food retail and wholesale companies with senior executives of suppliers, manufacturers and service providers. FMI Midwinter will also feature events including the FMI Food Industry Golf Tournament and Stir It Up, a cooking competition and fundraiser.
Winter Fancy Food Show
Jan. 21-23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas
The Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show will offer attendees the opportunity to sample foods, forge business ties and attend educational sessions. The event run by the New York-based trade association will also feature an exhibit hall where grocers can connect with specialty food producers.
The NGA Show
March 10-12 at the Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas
The National Grocers Association’s annual convention provides a forum for independent grocers to meet with representatives of wholesalers, CPGs and other companies that offer products and services. Key components of the three-day trade show will include an exhibit hall with 300 exhibitors, sessions featuring over 100 speakers and the Best Bagger Competition, where baggers from around the U.S. will square off for a $10,000 grand prize.
Natural Products Expo West
March 12-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California
Informa’s Natural Products Expo West will give attendees a first-hand look at some of the latest natural and organic foods and beverages; supplements and ingredients; and clean beauty and home products. (Note: Grocery Dive publisher Industry Dive is also owned by Informa.)
Sweets & Snacks Expo
May 14-16 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis
The National Confectioners Association’s annual trade show promises to give grocers a chance to get up close and personal with the latest trends in the snacking business. The show will focus on innovations across product sectors including chips, sweets, nuts, pretzels and jerky, along with a specialty market and section devoted to startups.
The 2024 edition of the show will see the event transition to a cycle where the Sweets & Snacks Expo spends two years in Indianapolis followed by a single year in Las Vegas. The new rotation, set to continue through 2032, follows the Sweets & Snacks Expo’s yearslong run in Chicago.
June 9-11 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston
The International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s show is gearing up for another show aimed at providing people in the dairy, bakery, deli and foodservice sectors with a glimpse at the latest industry trends. IDDBA 2024 is set to host 800 exhibitors and include a showcase for new products.
Oct. 7-9 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
The annual Groceryshop conference is scheduled to roll into Las Vegas again next year with a broad slate of keynotes, breakout sessions, exhibitors and networking opportunities for people from across the food retailing sector. Look for speakers including top-level grocery industry executives, representatives of a broad array of retailers, market research firms, technology companies and other companies focused on the grocery business.
PLMA’s Private Label Trade Show
Nov. 18-19 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois
The Private Label Manufacturers Association’s yearly conference offers a chance for retailers and wholesalers to explore products from small and medium-sized suppliers as well as nationally known CPGs. According to the website for Rosemont, the even’t host city, next year’s event will feature over 1,300 exhibitors from dozens of countries as well as PLMA’s Idea Supermarket, where retailers from across the globe will showcase their store brand programs.