Do We Really Need A NAFEM Show?

NAFEM Show 2019
Highlights from the 2017 NAFEM Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

As opposed to Groundhog Day, the NAFEM show rears its head every OTHER February. The North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers is, once again, hosting its bi-annual mega-trade show in Orlando on February 7-9, 2019 at the Orange County Convention Center.

As jaded as one could become in a career spanning the course of six decades, I for one still look forward to attending and learning at the NAFEM show. Opportunities abound for those savvy enough to seek them out mid-winter in Florida.

This event in particular holds the promise of hope for the future of non-foods manufacturing and distribution in the foodservice industry. In these disruptive times, it stands as a harbinger of things to come (both good and bad).

NAFEM Show 2019Many factories tend to plan their innovative introductions to coincide with the show. It has become an arena for unveiling both practical solutions as well as “concept cars” (which may or may not come to fruition). Manufacturers from abroad are also likely to showcase their latest advances.

For trend-watchers, this happening is invaluable, as several years’ worth of R&D are unveiled, and the resulting go-to-market products are revealed to the public (as well as to the manufacturers’ competitors…).

Hotelex/UBM January 2019 728×90

Things To Look Out For At The NAFEM Show Include:

  • Cordless, wireless and ventless technologies
  • Smart appliances
  • Environmentally friendly E&S
  • Indoor gardening solutions
  • Tableware trends
  • Smaller equipment for non-traditional locations
  • Larger equipment for commissaries, ghost-kitchens and the like

NAFEM show attendees represent a broad spectrum of international and domestic participants.  In addition to the manufacturers, dealers and reps that one would expect, you shouldn’t be surprised to encounter both chain and independent operators, regulatory bodies, component suppliers, trade organizations, advocacy groups, and NGO’s.

Although there are many celebratory parties, a headliner concert and several gala mixer events, this confab has remained all-business throughout its storied run.  Attendees will find that covering the many booths alone will require a full-time commitment for the duration of their stay. In addition to the trade-show floor action, educational sessions abound, and a good deal of planning and discipline must be exercised to fit it all in.

NAFEM Show 2019
Posing in the Insinger booth from the NAFEM Show 2017.

As we only get together every two years as an industry, missing the NAFEM show would be like, well, missing the NAFEM show!

Top 10 Reasons Not To Go To The NAFEM Show:

  1. This whole foodservice thing is a fad that won’t last.
  2. I know everything there is to know about FSE&S.
  3. I can’t abide networking and mingling with the entire power structure of my chosen profession.
  4. There are no flights from my area to Orlando in the winter.
  5. We don’t collect trade-show tzatchkies.
  6. I love the status quo.
  7. We don’t care about the latest food and design trends, and don’t want to learn about the equipment and supplies created to support them.
  8. I can’t spell NAFEM.
  9. We went ten years ago; nothing has changed.
  10. I hate Florida sunshine in February.

Look for me on the trade-show floor; I’ll be the exhausted, but eager one running from booth to booth!

Joe Ferri
Joe Ferri (aka the Foodiequipper) was conceived in a Greenwich Village speakeasy’s walk-in box, the love child of the hat check girl and bartender. He is in his fifth decade of (somewhat) gainful employment in the foodservice industry. He is past chairman of MAFSI and currently COO of Pecinka Ferri Assoc., a NY area equipment, furnishings and supplies representative.