Today, Petfood Forum, organized and put on by WATT Global Media and Petfood Industry, is known as the pet food industry’s global conference and exhibition focused on technologies utilized in the processing of pet foods and pet treats. Located in the heart of the Animal Health Corridor in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, the 2018 show boasted just under 3,000 attendees and more than 250 exhibitors filling almost 430 booth spaces. Exhibitors included industry suppliers, co-packers and service providers, and attendees included professionals working in nutrition, ingredient and processing technologies, packaging, food science, R&D, product development, food safety, QA/QC, purchasing, import/export and regulatory compliance. The 2019 show is expected to be the biggest yet, with more than 300 exhibitors filling 545 booths and an estimated audience of 3,300 attendees.
The internationally known show actually has humble roots, in an Illinois suburb outside of Chicago.
“Petfood Forum started in 1993 on River Road in Des Plaines, Illinois, as a small, 100 people/10 table top event,” says Steve Akins, executive vice president, global petfood/events for WATT Global Media. The show eventually outgrew its Des Plaines venue and moved to the Hyatt in Rosemont, Illinois, right next to O’Hare International Airport. Still growing, the show then relocated to Schaumburg, Illinois, where it remained for several years. But by 2014, Petfood Forum had outgrown its space yet again. The 2015 show debuted at its new and current home, the Kansas City Convention Center.
“The move to Kansas City doubled our attendance in 2015 and allowed many in the industry to actually drive to the event and get there much more easily,” says Akins. “Petfood Forum has grown as the industry has grown (largely due to humanization of pets as family members) — consumer desire to spend more on their companion animals which are now treated as more of a family member, as well as the number of new food and treat products introduced every year, has continued to grow, answering consumer demand.”
Petfood Forum has become a prime opportunity for industry global networking and business, as well as for education on the latest research and trends in the pet food world.
“Networking and getting business done are why most people attend Petfood Forum, according to our attendee/exhibitor surveys,” says Akins. “Education and learning are second, and attendees are also able to view the industry’s only supplier exhibition for pet food and pet treat manufacturers.”
The show, of course, continues to grow as Petfood Forum expands to provide exhibitors and attendees with even more opportunities for networking and knowledge.
Among the new elements in 2019 are the China Pavilion, which highlights and focuses on Chinese suppliers to the industry, and a product presentation stage that will allow selected companies to show off their latest products and services. The Student Program is being expanded, with student-specific networking events and meet-and-greets added to the schedule in addition to the second annual student abstract competition and other existing events. The Buyer’s Mission, which features international pet food buyers meeting with suppliers about how their services will improve their businesses, is also back for another year.
Very notable for 2019 is the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Pet Food Labeling Workshop, which will be held in association with Petfood Forum 2019. The Workshop will take place on Thursday, May 2, at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, the headquarters hotel for Petfood Forum.
Petfood Forum also includes the Petfood Innovation Workshop, which in 2019 will focus on the theme, “Clean Label Technology.” The workshop is a one-day event that takes place the day before Petfood Forum begins, at Kansas State University Olathe. This interactive workshop will explore the trends for transparency and desire for improved communication through labels with the technical, legal and logistics of manufacturing modern pet foods to satisfy both pets and owners.
The interactive demonstration rotations will cover:
Early-bird registration is currently open for both Petfood Forum and Workshop. For full details on both events, the latest show-related news, and to register for Petfood Forum and/or Workshop, go to www.petfoodforumevents.com. Discounts on group registration are also available.
Lindsay Beaton is the editor of Petfood Industry magazine and the author of "Trending: Pet Food," a weekly pet food industry blog. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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