How do I plan my 2019 Petfood Forum experience?

How to set yourself up for success so you can hit the trade show floor running.

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Petfood Forum 101 is a first-time show attendee and exhibitor program for Petfood Forum USA. | Tess Stukenberg
Petfood Forum 101 is a first-time show attendee and exhibitor program for Petfood Forum USA. | Tess Stukenberg

Petfood Forum 2019 is a global event, drawing pet food industry members from all over the world. Over three days, attendees can attend interactive workshops, walk the trade show floor, sit in on education sessions, and participate in several formal and informal networking opportunities. For a first-time attendee, it can be overwhelming to decide just how to get the most out of such a multifaceted experience.

Getting started

Have you registered yet? If not, there are multiple options to ensure you get to experience everything you’re aiming for. Whether you want full access or are just visiting for a day to check things out, Petfood Forum has the right registration for you. (And, with Early Bird registration through March 1, at the right price!) Among the options:

  • Petfood Forum and Petfood Innovation Workshop Combination Pass: This is the complete package, giving you access to the full calendar of Forum and Workshop events.
  • Petfood Forum Full Conference Pass: Can’t make it to Workshop? Get a pass to Forum alone, and gain access to all networking events, the trade show floor and educational sessions for the entirety of the conference.
  • Petfood Innovation Workshop Only: If you’re on a tight schedule and want to participate in a day of interactive workshops focused on “Clean Label Technology,” this one’s for you!
  • Forum Day Pass: Choose a day and attend all the available education sessions, as well as having full access to the trade show floor.
  • Petfood Forum Exhibit Hall Only Pass: If you aren’t interested in the educational sessions but would still like to hit the trade show floor, you can get this pass and spend a day of your choosing during the show interacting with more than 350 industry exhibitors, including suppliers, co-packers and service providers.
  • Student or Human Resource Professional Petfood Forum Full Conference Pass: Interested in learning what the pet food industry is all about? If you’re a student or in Human Resources, you can gain access to everything Petfood Forum has to offer, including all networking opportunities, speakers, educational sessions and the exhibit hall.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll need to turn your attention to logistics. The Forum website has an entire section devoted to ensuring you can quickly and easily make hotel accommodations (with links to take advantage of our special conference room rates), plan for transportation once you’re on the ground in Kansas City, and find the best area parking.

Managing your time at Petfood Forum

Petfood Forum is an immersive mix of networking and education, the trade show experience and the latest industry trends. If you want to do it all, it will take some planning to ensure you don’t miss out. For pre-planning purposes, the full agenda and speakers list can be found on the events website, with a day-by-day breakout of sessions and a separate tab for the Petfood Innovation Workshop schedule.

You’ll want to take particular note of keynotes and general sessions — they tend to be quite popular and if you want a good seat, it’s best to show up a few minutes early! This year, Dr. Katy Nelson, host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” and associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, will kick off the conference portion of Petfood Forum on April 30 with a talk covering the latest research on the human-animal bond and its benefits. The general sessions on both April 30 and May 1 will focus on industry growth drivers and consumer trends and are not to be missed.

The concurrent session tracks for 2019 are Nutrition, Ingredients, Market & Packaging and Processing & Safety. If your interest is strongly in one of these categories, you can settle in the appropriate room and spend the day learning about the latest information and research on your chosen topic. But make sure you take a look at the sessions happening on each track, just in case — the timing of the sessions ensures that you can jump tracks as much as you’d like, sitting in on a nutrition session and then switching rooms to a processing talk if it catches your eye.

The panel discussions are equally rich in content, with topics focusing on science vs. marketing, an update on the canine DCM investigation, the future of pet food and the new world of selling pet food.

Prior to the show, Petfood Forum will release a downloadable mobile App that includes the full show schedule, along with the option to create a customizable personal schedule to ensure you don’t miss anything.  

Additional pre-show planning musts

  • Set your goal(s) for your time at Petfood Forum. Is networking your primary aim? Take note of all the social opportunities Forum provides so you can make the most of them. Are you looking for education? Stay on top of the various session tracks and plan your time accordingly. Whatever your focus, having a goal will help you navigate the show in the most effective way possible.
  • Set up appointments ahead of time. Petfood Forum provides plenty of networking opportunities in larger group settings, but both the convention center and the surrounding area of Kansas City’s Power & Light District also provide endless opportunities for smaller group or one-on-one meetings. Whether you prefer to do business over drinks, in a conference room or at a restaurant, your options are abundant.
  • Plan some time for yourself. If it’s your first time at Petfood Forum, there’s something to be said for just taking it all in. Make sure you give yourself time to walk the trade show floor, enjoy a good meal at one of the many excellent restaurants in the surrounding area and wander the conference center layout. There’s a lot to see and do at both the show and in Kansas City — take advantage!
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