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ACityDiscount Attends The 2015 NAFEM Show

Posted: Mar 10, 2015

2015's Show was held in Anaheim, CA

In February, members of the ACityDiscount team traveled to Anaheim, CA to attend the 2015 NAFEM Show.  NAFEM, the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers, is the industry’s largest collective of manufacturers and suppliers, and their biennial showcase is one of the biggest expositions in foodservice.  The NAFEM Show gives manufacturers an opportunity to display many of their new and forthcoming products for rep groups, distributors, and the dealer community.  The 2015 show was one of the largest on record, and featured booths from over 500 equipment manufacturers.

ACityDiscount Team Members Leave Atlanta and Avoid the Cold

Team members left Atlanta on Wednesday, February 18th and barely missed the kiss of Canadian cold air.  As the polar vortex played its game with the eastern seaboard and temperatures in the Atlanta area drew close to the single digits, the crew was greeted by gorgeous Orange County, CA weather.  But the 70 degree plus sunny days were just a fringe benefit, as there was work to be done indoors.  The team finalized their itinerary for the show after arriving on Wednesday evening, and prepared themselves (and their feet) for several days at NAFEM.

ACityDiscount’s First Day at the NAFEM Show

After gathering their show badges in the hotel lobby on Thursday morning, the team strolled to the hotel-adjacent Anaheim Convention Center.  A multi-level, glass covered complex, the NAFEM show saw all of the convention center’s 5 main exhibit halls opened for exhibitor booths that ranged in size from 10’ x 10’ to mini-complexes that stretched several hundred feet across.  Before the doors opened at 9 am, a crowd amassed that was akin to the starting line of a large city marathon.  Security thoroughly checked all badges to prevent non-exhibitors from entering early, and a small section of carpet acted as their impasse.  But as the clocks struck 9 o’ clock, patrons entered the show floor in one fell swoop. 

As the team entered the show, they broke off into their pre-ordained teams and began to traverse the vast expanse of foodservice equipment.  Stops for the team on Day 1 included an early morning visit to Nemco, as well as trips to Arctic Air refrigeration, Southbend, Crown Verity, Moffat, Star, and a visit at Vollrath to close the day.  The crew feasted on concession items for lunch, and managed to find various other treats on the show floor to keep them satiated until the 4:00 pm hors d’oeuvre and happy hour.

ACityDiscount’s Second Day at the NAFEM Show

Upon arriving to the show on Day 2, the crew was able to enter early thanks to a special green dot on their badges.  The team’s first stop was a tour of the new Beverage Air offerings, before moving onto the Ice-O-Matic booth.  Learning the show’s floor plan in advance proved fruitful, as the team was able to cover significant ground on Day 2.  The crew was able to take in nearly the entire show, and covered well over half on the second day. 

Some of the second day highlights were stops at the Turbo Air, Manitowoc, and Vulcan areas, an exploration of many of ACityDiscount’s smallwares manufacturers, and some Organic Deep-Fried Fattback Blues during a food truck lunch provided by Bakersfield, CA blues artist Brother Yusef.  Brother Yusef’s performance during lunch was a perfect accompaniment to the California sunshine and delicious offerings from local food trucks.

Major Takeaways from the 2015 NAFEM Show

For the ACityDiscount team, there were several major takeaways from this year’s NAFEM Show.  The foodservice industry is beginning to shift to meet the desires / expectations of younger generations, and as a result, manufacturers are beginning to take on the new challenges faced by modern eateries.  Some of the most common themes at this year’s show were:

  • Purple – As the industry becomes more and more cognizant of food allergies for customers, manufacturers are unanimously getting behind purple as the official color of allergen-free supplies.  Cambro, Mercer, Browne Foodservice, Carlisle, and a number of other manufacturers were prominently displaying the breadth of their allergen-free purple lines of products at the show.
  • Green – Becoming eco-friendly is becoming a bigger deal with millenials moving into entrepreneur roles, not only because it is better for the environment, but because it saves money as well.  Saving on energy costs is always a perk for business owners that have to deal with variable food costs, and as profit margins become leaner with increases in the costs of items like proteins (which are set to go up again soon), saving pennies anywhere becomes incredibly important.  However, it should be noted, that this year it seems that many of the adjustments on this front have actually been pertaining to water.  Water prices are going up nationwide, as well as sewage / waste water fees, and we are seeing new ways to cut down on water waste, such as Vulcan’s new water saving steamers, and cutting back on waste water, such as T&S Brass’ new EnviroPure Systems which can quickly convert all food waste (including bones) into compost or grey water.
  • Space & Time – The final big theme the team noticed this year was space and time savings (so much so that Star Manufacturing’s booth featured numerous references to ‘Dr. Who’).  Once again, this is no doubt an effect of the millennial generation entering foodservice as entrepreneurs.  Not only have the expectations gone up for all foodservice establishments, especially regarding to the variety of options being provided, but new establishments are expected to do the same kind of work with significantly smaller footprints.  High caliber food trucks, upscale dining kiosks, and small eateries are on the rise, upping the ante for fast service, while still putting pressure on manufacturers to produce the same quality equipment in a smaller footprint.

More Coverage From ACityDiscount’s Trip to the NAFEM Show

The team got lots of great videos on innovative foodservice equipment at NAFEM, and plenty of candid shots of the show.  To see more footage from the team’s trip to Anaheim, stop by the ACityDiscount Facebook Page, YouTube Channel, or Google + Page