Blurred Lines

I must admit, as I sit here by my keyboard, I’m blurry and bleary after last night’s election. While I am shocked and saddened by the results, our democracy has spoken. My hope is that Trump rises to the occasion and leads our country to a prosperous future.

I have been blurry over the past month after this fall’s frenetic pace of shows and events. For all of our BevNET team, fanning out across the country, it has been a season of connecting with our various marketplaces, taking pulse, and assessing their growth. The exchanges have been mostly positive and there is great optimism heading into 2017. In addition, our own roster of gatherings, including BevNET Live, Brewbound, and Project NOSH have grown exponentially, achieving great excitement, drawing strong attendance, and taking time to serve the industry. We’re riding a wave of a terrific time for CPG across the spectrum.

I just want to touch upon the two major events that I hit recently. The Expo East show in Baltimore and the NACS show in Atlanta filled my dance cards. Over the years, each show had its own unique proposition and appropriate exhibitors for their audiences. The Natural/ Healthy/Organic slant of Expo East was always a sharp contrast to the rough and tumble free- for-all product mix that signified the convenience arena. The attendees of the two shows also couldn’t be more different, as reflected in the distinctly different products offered. The contrast was obvious.

600

Today, it’s a different feel. Walking each show, it’s hard to determine one from the other. First, the duplication of exhibitors was tremendous. I would venture to guess that over 60 brands were at both events. As there were about 150 beverage brands represented at each show, having over 40 percent decide that they needed to reach both audiences spoke volumes. I was struck by how many retailers I saw at Expo East that were also at NACS. But these days, they could justify the time and expense of attending both.

The product mixes, once so skewed to each format, are mostly leaning towards the healthy, natural direction. Along with a broadening of the consumer profile have come changes to their tastes and purchasing habits. Beer and soda still are the dominant sellers, but the “other” has taken on a life of its own in the stores. Stores in the Expo East world have also expanded