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NAFEM ’23 Show: the preview guide

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Delegates, organizers and exhibitors can look forward to a NAFEM Show that is back to its best as it returns to the usual size and scale. Executive director Deirdre Flynn shares the details with Amelia Levin

The NAFEM Show, organized by The North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers, representing over 550 foodservice equipment and supplies manufacturers in the US, remains undiminished.

The NAFEM Show 2023, held on 1-3 February at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, is the world’s leading biennial experience of innovative foodservice equipment and supplies for food preparation, cooking, storage and table service.

“Everyone we’ve talked to is so excited about being back together – the biggest change is that the 2023 event mirrors the 2019 event; 2021 was, due to circumstances at the time, a scaled down NAFEM show,” says Deirdre Flynn, NAFEM’s executive director. “There were no networking events (Kick off and NAFEM parties), there was going to be limited educational offerings, and scaled down exhibits.”

This year, all of these events and activities are back, along with some new updates as well as many new products that have come on the market. “We’ve seen a lot of new products come on the market to reflect the needs of operators worldwide as how food away from home is enjoyed has changed, so you’ll see lots of ingenuity and creativity,” says Flynn. “There’s no question that there are challenges the industry continues to face – rising costs in materials for manufacturers and food/goods for operators, supply chain woes, finding and retaining talent, and more. However, the pandemic taught us all how be flexible, to stay in touch. Together, we can accomplish anything.”

Speakers and sessions

“We are just in the process of developing the educational content that will be featured at the show in @CenterStage, our educational theater on the show floor,” says Flynn. “There will be three styles of presentations: Ted Talks on a topic in the form of 10- to 15-minute presentations; anchor-desk-like reports on industry trends and topics; and moderated panel discussions including representation from a variety of foodservice industry icons.

All content will be live-streamed and available post-show on a variety of NAFEM channels, including the show app (N+), NAFEM’s YouTube Channel and through The NAFEM Learning Center and the show website.

The N+ show app is available for attendees and non-attendees who subscribe. It will be available in January and stay open and updated until the end of October 2024. “We are encouraging exhibitors to add as much information as possible to their show listing in N+, and we will constantly remind them that the show app will stay live through October of 2024 when we’ll turn to 2025 show information,” says Flynn.

Networking opportunities

“We are excited to bring back The NAFEM Show’s premier networking events,” says Flynn. The Kick-off Party will take place Tuesday, January 31, from 6-8pm, at the Hilton Orlando (lower level, outdoor space and the site of the 2017 Kick-off Party). “It’s a great opportunity to get together and see everyone after too long a hiatus, and there will be great food and drink,” Flynn says.

The NAFEM Party, themed “Welcome to the NAFEM Neighborhood,” will take place on Thursday, February 2, 7:30-11pm, and features two opportunities to participate – a dinner and concert option or a concert-only option. Tickets are available at thenafemshow. org for registered attendees. Previous years have seen well-known musical names, including Sheryl Crow, perform at the NAFEM Party. Also this year, exhibitors will be able to host receptions in their booth from 3-5pm on Wednesday, February 2, and Thursday, February 3. “This is something else that is back for 2023,” says Flynn. “It wasn’t going to be offered in 2021, but it was offered in 2019 and prior years.”

Amelia Levin