Petfood Forum 101: How do I plan my 2023 Petfood Forum experience?

Learn Petfood Forum pre-planning tips on how to make your show experience a successful one.

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Petfood Forum 2022 kicked off with an opening reception celebrating its 30th anniversary, held at the KC Live! plaza in downtown Kansas City.
Petfood Forum 2022 kicked off with an opening reception celebrating its 30th anniversary, held at the KC Live! plaza in downtown Kansas City.
Nancy Batio

Petfood Forum 2023 is a global event, drawing pet food industry members from all over the world. Over three days, attendees can attend interactive seminars, 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. Among the options:

  • Petfood Forum 2-Day and Petfood Essentials Combination Pass: This is the complete package, giving you access to the full calendar of Essentials and Forum events.
  • Petfood Forum 2-Day Pass: Can’t make it to Essentials? 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 Forum Conference 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 2-Day 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 the show interacting with industry exhibitors, including suppliers, co-packers and service providers.
  • Student 2-Day Pass: Interested in learning what the pet food industry is all about? If you’re a student, 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, 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 Essentials 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, David Allison of the Valuegraphics Project will open Forum by speaking on “What Valuegraphics can tell you about your pet food consumers,” sharing the common core values of pet owners based on an exclusive study conducted for Petfood Forum to help brands and companies anticipate consumer behaviors and needs for the types of pet food and treats they seek to buy. (If you’d like a preview on the topic, check out our recent Trending: Pet Food podcast episode with David!)

Then, on Wednesday, we have an “eye-opener” session with Mary Kelly of Productive Leaders discussing “Futurenomics: Turning crisis into clarity for you team and organization.” If you’d like a snapshot of all the economic factors currently affecting the pet food industry and what to do about them, this is a don’t-miss. (We also spoke with Mary Kelly on Trending: Pet Food, about leadership in difficult times. Listen here!)

Finally, David Sprinkle of Packaged Facts will be closing out Forum on Wednesday afternoon with his session, “What’s next for pet food?” which will also include a panel Q&A with industry experts.

The concurrent session tracks for 2023 are “Understanding today’s pet owners, going to market,” “Novel pet food ingredients and nutrition concepts,” “Unknotting the pet food supply chain,” and “Pet food regulatory and safety innovations.” 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 market session and then switching rooms to a regulatory talk if it catches your eye.

If you have room for more education and industry knowledge, there are daily Tech Talks, Lunch ‘n’ Learn sessions, and student research presentations to keep you occupied! See the full event agenda for topics and times.

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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