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Top Trends We Noticed At IDDBA 2024

IDDBA 2024 trends

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This year, the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association brought its annual tradeshow to Houston, Texas for three busy days. IDDBA filled the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston with thousands of exhibits and dozens of learning sessions about innovations and best practices in the industry. In case you couldn’t make it – or even if you could, but couldn’t see it all – here are three top trends we noticed at this year’s show.

Amazing automations

AI isn’t coming to a deli counter near you – at least, not yet – but robotic tools are coming to automate highly repetitive tasks. Interesting robotic innovations made a strong showing. The latest advancements allow them to do everything from slicing deli meats and packaging prepped produce, to icing cakes and shaping sushi. Given the ongoing labor crunch, strategic automation may be one way to release some of that pressure. Although cost is currently prohibitive, in the future, we may see these machines acting as a force multiplier for lean operations.

Flavor goes global

Across the fresh departments, international flavors are taking center stage. Treats like conchas and mochi are making their way into bakeries. Global flavorings like South African peri-peri, Asian ube and more are appearing in sauces, syrups and other flavoring agents. Compound butters in a range of flavors from spicy to savory to sweet are appearing alongside cheeses that incorporate nontraditional flavors in unexpected ways, such as hibiscus-studded brie or smoky, spice-infused cheddar. Customers are expanding their palettes faster than ever before, and tastes that were once considered exotic now have devoted fans everywhere. As new tastes join the melting pot, customers are also seeking new and novel ways to enjoy classic flavors from around the world, and fresh departments are uniquely positioned to add value with these flavor trends. 

Perfecting packaging

Packaging optimization was a hot topic at this year’s IDDBA. We saw an emphasis on sustainability. The use of post-consumer recycled materials and recyclable materials are maintaining high popularity. Updated packaging formats are having a moment as well. For example, Catania Oils is introducing several large-format PET bottles as cost-saving alternatives to HDPE, allowing for cost-cutting without shrinking size formats. Lower-plastic alternatives to traditional packaging are adding sustainability value to areas where non-plastic packaging may be difficult or impossible to apply. Customer demand for efficient, sustainable packaging is showing no signs of slowing, and this year’s packaging offerings reflected that.

From new automations to fusion flavors to optimized packaging and beyond, this year’s IDDBA was a fascinating glimpse into what’s new and next in the dairy, deli and bakery departments. No matter which of these trends stands out to you, keep in mind that a good supplier partner will take the time to listen to your needs and find the right solution for your business.

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Featured Photo IDDBA Annual Convention
George R. Brown Convention Center
Houston, TX