One of the latest trends in distribution is to stop hosting food shows (or at least scale back their frequency.)

They’re expensive to produce, and lately, because of lack of attendance, more and more suppliers are complaining that they aren’t getting a good return on their investment.

Typically a supplier pays a booth fee, then spends additional funds on allowances on the cases of product which are booked at a show. This allowance is only available to those operators who attend the show and book product.

Typically the allowance will be $0.25 – $1.50 off per case. The funds will be automatically deducted from their invoices. If you don’t go to the show, you don’t get the allowances. While at the show, you book enough product to cover the amount that you’ll buy during the shipping period (this is how long you’ll receive your allowances). The shipping period is typically 6-8 weeks.

An operator can “book” product but then decide not to buy the products in the following weeks. There’s really no way to enforce it. Meanwhile, the distributor tells the manufacturers how successful the show was because they “booked” 200,000 cases of product. In reality, during the next 8 weeks, they might only ship 50% or 60% of those cases. Financially, the supplier is only responsible for allowances on cases actually shipped.

Anyway… many distributors are implementing a “No Show Food Show”. They’ll compile the list of items with allowances that would have been offered at the show. They create a “book” and send it out to the customers. The customers have two weeks to finalize their orders for the next 8 weeks. The operators still take advantage of “deals”, but they don’t have to stop by a booth and talk to a manufacturer or broker. The supplier doesn’t need to spend the time, money, and energy to set up, decorate, staff, and breakdown a booth.

SYSCO MN had always had two food shows per year (Spring and Fall). This Fall was the first time they are attempting the “No Show Food Show” idea. Attached is the “book”. Check out page 24.

How ‘bout them apples?

Z.