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This Just In

National Restaurant Association Show Experiences High Growth in International Numbers Under Informa Connect Ownership

MADDY RYLEY, MANAGING EDITOR
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CHICAGO — The 2024 National Restaurant Association Show returned to Chicago’s McCormick Place May 18-21, bringing together the foodservice industry for four days to see innovation and advancements in products and technology, as well as participate in educational opportunities.

Spanning more than 720,000 square feet and featuring more than 2,240 exhibitors, this year’s show was 10% larger than the 2023 edition. The total exhibitor count included 700-plus first-timers and more than 600 international participants — 28% of the total.

“On the exhibitor side, we’re really thrilled with the growth overall, and in all of our product categories,” said Tom Cindric, President, Exhibitions at Informa Connect Foodservice. “We saw tremendous growth in in our Global Food Expo area, and other areas of the show floor that international exhibitors exhibit in.”

The show also saw more than 58,000 attendees this year — a 6% increase year-over-year. International attendees, representing 123 countries, made up 15% of that count which reflects a 22% growth over 2023 in terms of international attendance.

The “Power of Us”

This year marked the first edition under Informa Connect’s ownership, as it acquired Winsight in May 2023 and further expanded its foodservice portfolio with the acquisition that included its National Restaurant Association Show, data and research insights arm and B2B media portfolio.

“We’ve been able to really leverage what Informa Connect calls the ‘power of us,’ which is all of our events in the foodservice industry, all of our great media products,” Cindric said.

From various media outlets to podcasts, with so many brands Informa is the leading event company that’s in foodservice, which helps to continue to strengthen the show.

“From a social media perspective, it helps with outreach and talking to customers. People in the market know Informa because they’ve attended other events, and that helps us globally, with the international audience,” Cindric said. “We were strong and united before, but now we’re even more so because we have a broader reach, more products and more media coverage, especially on the digital side with customers.”

Cindric said that the team continues to focus on driving international participation and attendance and was able to do so successfully with the ‘power of us.”

“It’s exciting and it’s something that I’ve always been proud of — prioritizing the international,” Cindric said. “And to be able to leverage the broadness, the media and everything that happens when Informa comes in and has a lot of products in your space, it helps the show tremendously.”

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Expanded Education

This year, the team also expanded its educational offerings. Attendees with an expo badge can access the on-the-floor educational content offered throughout the show, including keynotes and other featured sessions.

The all-new Expo + Education badge allowed attendees to access educational programming off the show floor, as well as access to deeper dives into key topics for the industry.

“Most of the stages have sponsor-led and exhibitor-led education and we took the education off the show floor and put it into more of a learning environment — classroom style,” Cindric said. “We had over 2, 700 people participate; the sessions were packed, and it was fantastic. The speakers loved it, and the attendees loved it. Our international audience was really signing up for that education. When international visitors come to the show, they’re always looking at products and they want to learn about what’s happening in the U.S. because the U.S. really leads the world in foodservice.”

The Expo + Education badge was an additional fee, and also offers access to the content post-event so that attendees can revisit sessions or check out something they might have missed. The educational content will also be available to those who did not get the Expo + Education badge for an additional fee.

Start-Up Alley, which had usually focused on technology in the industry, was expanded to include new businesses from all related sectors to showcase their services and products on the show floor.

The 2025 National Restaurant Association Show will take place May 17-20 at McCormick Place. Cindric also shared that The National Restaurant Assocation Show will be held in Chicago through 2032.

“We’re very pleased with the show being in and staying in Chicago,” Cindric said. “Chicago is a city that’s very important to us, and the restaurant community embraces it. Some of the top restaurants in the country are in Chicago, and our international visitors love coming to the city, especially this time of year.”

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