IDDBA 2019 shows the future of fresh

Gina Acosta
Managing Editor
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At IDDBA 2019, Seattle-based Trident Seafoods showed off high-protein noodles made from pollock.

What will the dairy, deli and bakery departments look like in 2020 … and beyond?

Judging from what I saw at IDDBA 2019 in Orlando, Fla., this week, those departments are about to undergo a drastic change to become more artisanal, more natural, more private label and more digital.

Walking the exhibit hall at this year’s International Dairy Deli Bakery Association show was like walking Epcot Center’s World Showcase at nearby Walt Disney World: a trip around the world in just over 100,000 square feet of space. The show attracted a record-breaking more than 10,000 attendees and exhibitors who gathered to connect and learn about the trends in the increasingly key fresh departments of dairy, deli and bakery. And those trends were all about telling a new story to the consumer.

This year’s IDDBA show featured a New Product Showcase, What’s In Store Live events that educated attendees on ways to grow their business, an Expert Neighborhood where attendees met industry experts, and a series of general sessions that included the likes of IDDBA Chairman Rick Findlay, entrepreneur  Kevin Ryan, Milk Bar creator Christina Tosi, author Seth Godin, A.T. Kearney partner Dave Donnan, multicultural marketing expert Terry Soto, IDDBA CEO Mike Eardley, former boxer Laila Ali, actor Michael J. Fox, food trend expert Barb Stuckey, and actor Rob Lowe.

Findlay, who is also vice president of fresh at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, pointed out the important changes happening in the grocery and food industries during the opening general session of IDDBA 2019.

"Consumers no longer shop in the same manner they did before," he said. “Consumers are actively seeking out new flavors, tastes and products. At the same time, they still enjoy eating at home and turning to their personal go-to comfort foods. The key to success is identifying how consumers have evolved and adapting to meet their needs today.”

But the main attraction at IDDBA 2019 was the exhibit hall where thousands of show-goers flocked to exhibitors’ booths from around the world. Companies from Italy, Spain, France, Canada and Latin America, many of which supply for private label, dominated the show, and treated attendees to slices of fresh baked brioche and giant tables of charcuterie (a big trend in deli).

One exhibitor, St. Pierre Groupe, a private label supplier of European bakery products based in the UK, constructed a Parisian neighborhood at the entrance to the exhibit hall. The exhibit featured a 20-foot-tall TV screen showing live video from the streets of Paris, several faux French-style building facades, a woman playing French music on an accordion, and a mock Eiffel Tower. Employees offered samples of salted caramel shortbread, hazelnut chocolate croissants and butter cookies.

The impressive exhibit was just one example of how suppliers for dairy, deli and bakery are trying to help retailers tell a story of artisanal quality to consumers.

Many suppliers at IDDBA 2019 told me that consumers are looking for not only quality but also authenticity: They want to see “Made in France” on the label of their croissants, and “Product of Belgium” on the label of their waffles, suppliers said. Many also said the bakery is changing and taking up more square footage in-store. Cakes and pies filled with artificial ingredients are no longer on-trend. And French-style baked goods, from baguettes to brioche hot dog buns, are in demand and were ubiquitous at IDDBA.

Of course, consumers still want their muffins, cakes and donuts, suppliers said.

Craig VanHyfte, sales and marketing director for private label bakery supplier Baker Boy, said donuts are still growing and consumers are looking for innovation in the category. The company just launched what it calls Magic Ring donuts, which can be injected with one or several flavors of cream filling.

Other trends evident at IDDBA included artisanal cheeses from Europe and the U.S. West Coast, animal-free egg protein, fish-based protein noodles, sous vide meal kits, shelf-stable sausage and bacon merchandised as a snack food, premiumized hummus and plant-based everything.

Mike Eardley, president and CEO of IDDBA, urged retailers to stay focused on how technology trends are affecting the dairy, deli and bakery departments.

“Our departments have traditionally lagged behind in the application of technology,” Eardley said. “A rapidly changing consumer environment no longer allows that to be the case. Everyone has a computer in their pocket. Click-and-collect was up 65% in the fourth quarter compared to a year ago.”

At IDDBA’s What’s in Store Live event, retailers learned fresh examples of how to engage and appeal to customers through technology, merchandising and demonstrations. From pairing ideas to customized meal kit options, the event helped attendees experience out-of-the-box approaches and learn new ways they can engage shoppers.

IDDBA also showcased supermarket bakery talent with its 24th Annual Cake Decorating Challenge. The winner of the contest was Joni Graham of Carmen’s Independent CityMarket of Toronto. Second place went to Jess Tatham of Publix Super Markets. Third place went to Dana Nygaard of Hy-Vee. Attendees were also able to vote for their favorite cake decorator each day for the People’s Choice Award, which went to Nygaard.

The next IDDBA show will be held May 31-June 2, 2020, in Indianapolis.