by Greg Ferrara / NGA president and CEO
The 2020 NGA Show was one of the last large live food industry events to take place before the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone into the virtual world. For many of our colleagues and associates, it was the last in-person event they attended, some 18 months ago.
As the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter, NGA and partner Clarion Events are honored to return with an in-person show in 2021, scheduled for Sept. 19-21 at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Our members are excited to get together again at long last to learn about how to grow their businesses, network with their peers and make new connections. They also will celebrate their success in the monumental task of providing essential goods and services to consumers during one of the most challenging times in history for retail and the world.
NGA emerged from the Fourth of July weekend able to announce that the exhibit hall is sold out for the fall show, with registrations seeing double-digit growth over last year. The live, in-person event will feature nearly 300 exhibitors and vendors across the spectrum of product categories serving grocery retail.
In a year of rebirth, rebuilding and emerging from the shadows, what better way to kick things off than with a story of redemption and reinvention from our keynote speaker, sponsored by Kraft Heinz Co.
Chef, author and Food Network television personality Jeff Henderson, popularly known as Chef Jeff, is a sought-after leader in personal and professional development. His life story, which took him from prison inmate to renowned executive chef and TV star who helps at-risk youth transform their lives, is the right message at a time in our nation when many young people face barriers to success. His story will offer strong inspiration to the supermarket superheroes of the food industry.
Industry thought leaders will deliver 48 educational sessions in a conference program that includes eight tracks focused on: e-commerce; people development; fresh foods; omnichannel marketing; merchandising; technology; operation; and nutrition incentives.
These experts will focus on the most pressing issues and hottest topics impacting supermarket operations, as well as solutions that grocers can implement immediately.
Special events? From networking functions to competitions and awards, there will be opportunities for independent retailers and wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/CPG manufacturers and service providers to engage with their peers and showcase the innovation taking place in the industry.
Returning in September is NGA’s hallmark event, the Best Bagger Championship, sponsored by PepsiCo Inc., featuring the top grocery baggers from around the country competing for the championship title, bragging rights and a $10,000 grand prize.
The Creative Choice Awards honor and recognize the best marketing and merchandising programs in the grocery industry, and this year the pandemic drove entrants to stretch the bounds of their creativity.
In addition to the category winners, there are two special-recognition awards: the Supermarket Superheroes Award, sponsored by The Kellogg Co.; and the Excellence in Agility Award, sponsored by Unilever.
The NGA Foundation’s Women Grocers of America will hold WGA Roundtable Discussions, designed to cultivate connections between women in the independent grocery industry and create opportunities for personal and professional development. WGA members will host roundtables on a variety of topics, identifying solutions and new ideas surrounding workplace challenges.
We hope attendees are as excited as we are about live, in-person events and the NGA Show’s return to Las Vegas. To get us back on our post-pandemic timetable, NGA has begun planning the 2022 show, scheduled for late February – watch for updates as they unfold.