With less than one week to go before the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show kicks off, all roads for those in the international foodservice sector doing business in North America lead to Chicago. NRA Show 2016, the largest annual gathering of restaurant, foodservice, and lodging professionals in the world, will be held May 21-24 at McCormick Place. BAR 16, held in conjunction with the main event, will take place May 22-23.
And there’s more inside the doors. Bellavita, the biggest Made-in-Italy Food & Wine Expo outside of Italy, is making its USA debut at the NRA Show. Entrance to the Bellavita Italian Pavilion is included with general admission to the fairgrounds.
Over 66,000 attendees and visitors from more than 100 countries are expected to attend the four-day extravaganza to learn about the latest products and services, exchange innovative ideas and gather up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues in the industry.
As always frozen food producers will be on the scene in a big way, spotlighting offerings running the gamut from french fries and potato side dishes to seafood, ethnic ready meals, pizza, pasta, cakes, ice cream and a lot more.
Value-added potato products from Belgium will be front and center at Lutosa SA Booth 9642. In addition to frozen and refrigerated pre-fried Belgian fries, the company produces potato flakes and a wide range of frozen spud specialties. It also supplies an organic range of frozen fries, specialties and flakes.
Most Lutosa products are made from Bintje variety potatoes, which are highly regarded for flavor, yellow-colored flesh and reliable culinary quality. When it comes to fries, different potato varieties including Fontane, Asterix and Agria are utilized to meet the specific requirements of clients.
Lutosa’s two factories in Leuze-en-Hainaut and Sint-Eloois-Vijve have combined annual capacity of 360,000 tons of finished product. Through 17 subsidiaries and sales office worldwide – including one in Pleasant Hills, California – the company exports 88% of its output to 110 countries. Among customers are operators of restaurants, canteens, institutional foodservice establishments and distributors.
Veggie Fries from the Wellesley, Massachusetts-based company of the same name may be seen and sampled at Booth 10836. Made from a blend of vegetables, legumes and potatoes, Veggie Fries serve up with the same crisp and fluffy texture of traditional french fries while providing more nutritional benefits to consumers. Each low-sodium serving is loaded with fiber and vitamins A, C and K. Four varieties are offered: Broccoli, Carrot, Chickpea & Red Pepper, and Kale & Tuscan Herb.
The “day’s catch” of fish at Alfa Gamma Seafood Group Booth 10606 will include tuna, swordfish, mahi mahi, snapper and grouper harvested from Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean waters and thereafter quickly IQF-frozen within one of seven processing plants in Central America. Also offered will be large-sized Panaeus occidentals, Panaeus stylirostris and Panaeus vannamei shrimp in counts of U-7 to U-15 pieces per pound.
Storm Seafood, the Woodbury, Connecticut-based affiliate of Norway’s Norsk Sjømat A/S, will have plenty of frozen salmon portions, fillets and sashimi grade salmon on deck at Booth 5262. The company functions as a liaison between Norwegian production and procurement facilities and sales and marketing operations in the United States through partner Ocean Garden Products (OGP). Based in San Diego, OGP specializes primarily in wild and farm-raised Mexican shrimp packed under Ocean Garden and Compass labels.
Personnel from Fortune Fish & Gourmet will greet visitors at Booth 8033. The Bensenville, Illinois-based seafood processor and specialty foods distributor provides white-tablecloth restaurants, private clubs, hotels and independent gourmet retail stores with an extensive line of more than 10,000 frozen and non-frozen seafood items and gourmet products. The range includes Dover sole, Atlantic cod, lake trout, bigeye tuna, clams, crabs, mussels, lobster, oysters, shrimp and many other SKUs.
Show-goers can check out a raft of products from the second largest fishery in the United States by visiting Booth 472 of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. Nearly one-third of domestic seafood landed in the USA is wild-caught from Louisiana waters. Ranging from shrimp and oysters to crab, crawfish and alligator meat, the distribution of Pelican State bounty is in frozen as well as non-frozen form.
The Columbia, Maryland-based arm of Bangkok, Thailand-headquartered CP Food Products will receive visitors and make its Authentic Asia assortment of products available to sample at Booth #8742 in the Lakeside Building at McCormick Place. The company, in business for more than 95 years, is a major producer of frozen poultry, pork and shrimp items, including a wide range of ready meals.
Another enterprise headquartered in Southeast Asia’s “Land of the Smiles,” Thai Agri Food Public Co., Ltd. of Samutprakarn will be found at Booth 8958. Personnel greeting visitors will be eager to talk about the company’s extensive line of Thai ready meals, samosas, spring rolls, soups and pastries. In addition, the company offers seafood dishes, desserts, fries, grilled products, noodle-, rice- and curry-based specialties.
St. Petersburg, Florida-based Lantmännen Unibake USA will hold forth at Booth 1421 with a wide assortment of par-baked artisan breads, pre-proofed freezer-to-oven pastries and croissants. Its well-known brands are Schulstad Royal Danish Pastry and Croissants and Euro-Bake Breads.
Paterson, New Jersey-based Kontos Foods will present a full complement of artisan breads and traditional Mediterranean foods for restaurants, hotels and foodservice operators at Booth 1657. The family-owned company specializes in hand-stretched flatbreads, including the Kontos Pocket-Less Pita, Fillo dough, pastries, olives, gyro meats and Greek yogurts, as well as nearly 50 varieties of multi-ethnic flatbreads and pizza crusts.
The Fort Lee, New Jersey-based branch of Bridor Inc. will be on the scene at Booth 10542 with a basket of frozen breads, breakfast pastries and petits fours produced by Bridor de France. The parent company has been operating in Brittany since 1988. In 2010, Bridor de France began collaborating with Frédéric Lalos to design his eponynous bread line. In addition to Bridor de France and Frédéric Lalos, other brands offered include Bridor Canada, Maison Lenôtre and Au Pain Doré.
Anaheim, California-based Bridgford Foods Corp., which pioneered the manufacture and sale of frozen bread dough in the USA back in 1962, will hold forth at Booth 4456. The company’s catalogue boasts frozen bread and roll dough and fully baked heat-and-serve buttermilk biscuits for the foodservice trade, as well as a line of “Better For You” breads, rolls and biscuits featuring more whole grain and less sodium.
Deliciously Meat-Free” products will be the theme at Booth 1842 of Gardein (aka Garden Protein International), a unit of Parsippany, New Jersey-based Pinnacle Foods Inc. The Richmond, British Columbia, Canada-headquartered company’s frozen product portfolio includes beefless ground crumble, beefless strips, beefless tips, meatless Italian sausage crumble, meatless meatballs, meatless breakfast sausage patty, beefless burger, veggie burger, black bean burger, chick’n strips, chick’n breasts, breaded scallopini, crispy batter chick’n bites, breaded chick’n tenders, crispy chick’n pieces, fishless filet and turk’y roast.
The list of frozen food exhibitors at the NRA Show goes on. Among other booths worth checking out are those of Blount Fine Foods (1831); Brio Ice Cream (7665); Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods (10330); David’s Cookies (1654); Giorgio Foods (614); Goya Foods (9844); Sweet Street Desserts (4443); San Bernardo Ice Cream (8162); Ultra Thin Pizza Shells (1352); White Toque (7817); Wicked Spoon Frozen Yogurt (10618); Wonton Food Inc. (8222); G.S. Gelato & Desserts, Inc. (3282).