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National Restaurant Show 2015 in Chicago

May 28, 2015

The world´s eyes on the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals 

The 96th annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) trade show in Chicago was held from May 16 -19th. The NRA Show brought together operators, dealers, distributors, experts, manufacturers and suppliers from all over the world to address some of the most timely and relevant topics in the industry. In three spacious venues 2000+ exhibitors addressed the core issues of food & nutrition, operations, franchising, sales & marketing, technology and sustainability.

Austrian companies at the trade fair

Two Austrian companies also exhibited at this leading industry event, namely isi North America and Riedel Crystal. isi is the world´s largest manufacturer of high-quality cream and food whippers, soda siphons and their respective chargers. The company was founded in Vienna in 1811 and launched its first subsidiary in the States in 1977, which is based in Fairfield, New Jersey.

Riedel Crystal is a 300-year old family company known for its creation and development of varietal-specific stemware. The company manufactures state-of-the-art glasses and was the first in its field to recognize that the taste of the beverage is affected by the shape of the vessel from which it is consumed. The US branch of Riedel is located in Edison, New Jersey, from where the US market is served.

Latest trends and technologies

Trends in food, economics, consumer demographics and technology, etc. shape the future of chefs, foodservice markets and their suppliers. As the U.S. restaurant business has evolved into a mega-industry, following these trends promises a lot of potential.

One of the most noticeable trends at the trade show was customized products. For example, in the Victorinox booth visitors could assemble their own pocket knife in return for a 20 USD donation for American troops. Additionally, companies such as Coca Cola tried to engage the customers creatively.  The soft drink giant set up vending machines that allowed visitors to select from 60+ beverages, offering an impressive flavor variety.

Furthermore, new technologies were introduced to the audience. Top-to-bottom tech including mobile apps, mobile payment, POS, digital signage and data-driven solutions were displayed in order to improve transaction speed, communication, efficiency and cost. The highlight of the show was the 3D Printing Zone in Lakeside Center which allowed the public to get a glimpse of the future of foodservice technology in action. During the exhibition, the company 3D Systems handed out 3D printed geometric candies and announced the business idea of the first-ever 3D printing culinary innovation center.

Noticeable as well was the increasing amount of products available for people with particular lifestyles like vegetarians and vegans. Also in demand is a low sodium and gluten-free diet for specific nutrition needs. The awareness of local and organic farming is also on the rise, which triggers new ideas for sustainability.