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Top food and beverage events to keep on your radar in 2024

The 2024 calendar is already filling up with events from coast to coast – here are a dozen to keep on your radar as you plan for the year ahead.

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Attendees line up at The Specialty Food Association's Fancy Food Show

The Specialty Food Association

Conferences and trade shows are a great way to stay on top of emerging trends and make and maintain connections in the food and beverage industry. The 2024 calendar is already filling up with events from coast to coast – here are a dozen to keep on your radar as you plan for the year ahead. This list includes a look back at past coverage of some of these events by SmartBrief – we’ll update this article periodically with new event info and coverage.

NRF’s “Big Show”

Jan. 14-16 at the Javits Center in New York City

The National Retail Federation’s annual conference – billed as “Retail’s Big Show” – brought together 1,000 exhibitors and 450 speakers for a three-day event that included 170 sessions. Keynote speakers included John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart US, Stephanie Linnartz, president and CEO of Under Armour, and Carla Vernón, CEO of The Honest Company. View the NRF Big Show Special Report for a look back at the event.

FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference

Jan. 18-21 at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Marco Island, Fla.

This year’s FMI Midwinter Executive Conference will feature a continued focus on business-to-business meetings through programs such as the Strategic Executive Exchange, which facilitates private meetings between food retail and wholesale companies and their C-level peers in the supplier, manufacturing and service provider communities. The FMItech Pitch Competition will also return to the conference this year, showcasing innovations from cutting-edge startups.

Winter Fancy Food Show

Jan. 21-23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas

The 48th Winter Fancy Food Show will feature specialty foods and beverages across more than 40 product categories. The four-day program schedule kicks off with a session called “Taste the Future: AI-Enhanced Marketing for Specialty Food Products,” and includes sessions covering product development trends, how to build successful co-packing relationships and how influencers shape food and beverage trends.

Natural Products Expo West

March 12-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Natural Products Expo West bills itself as the “leading trade show in the natural, organic, and healthy products industry,” and the 2023 Expo drew more than 65,000 attendees and 3,000 exhibiting brands. The five-day schedule of events and education sessions includes keynote speeches from chef and activist Sean Sherman and Jay Shetty, author, podcast host and co-founder of JUNI Sparkling Tea.

WFF Leadership Conference 

March 25-27 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas

Sessions from this two-and-a-half-day event hosted by the Women’s Foodservice Forum will be available to in-person attendees as well as via streaming. The lineup of speakers includes Luvvie Ajayi Jones, the New York Times best- selling author of “Rising Troublemaker” and “Professional Troublemaker,” and Vaishali Jadhav, leadership development instructor for the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute.

Annual Meat Conference 

March 18-20 at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tenn.

This event co-hosted by FMI – The Food Industry Association and the North American Meat Institute will include the debut of the 2024 “Power of Meat” report. Anne-Marie Roerink from 210 Analytics will provide a walkthrough of the study, which is in its 19th year of publication. The program schedule also includes an opening keynote address from chef and entrepreneur Jeff Henderson.

Sweets & Snacks Expo

May 14-16 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis

After holding its annual Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago for many years, the National Confectioners Association announced in 2022 that it would change up the location starting in 2024. This year and next year, the candy- and snack-centric show will be held in Indianapolis, and the location will change to Las Vegas every third year until at least 2032. Speakers at last year’s Expo discussed the effects of inflation on candy and snack sales.

The National Restaurant Association Show, Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show

May 18-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago

Billed as the largest gathering of foodservice professionals in the western hemisphere, the National Restaurant Association’s annual convention will return to Chicago again this year. Chef, restaurateur and humanitarian Jose Andres will join in a keynote discussion, and attendees can take in the trends and attend education sessions on the show floor. Last year’s top trends at the show included seaweed products, customizable drinks and plant-based takes on steak. 

Summer Fancy Food Show

June 23-25 at Javits Center in New York City

This counterpart to the west coast Winter Fancy Food Show will celebrate its 68th year this summer. Last year’s show included more than 2,000 exhibiting specialty food and beverage companies, and brands with unique backstories stood out on the show floor.

Plant-Based World Expo

Sept. 11-12 at Javits Center in New York City

This two-day event features the Concierge Hosted Buyer Program, which aims to connect qualified exhibitors with retail and foodservice buyers. The theme of last year’s Expo was “The Next Wave,” and exhibitors showed off a wide range of products from jackfruit dumplings to bacon made from mushrooms.


Oct. 5-8 in Minneapolis

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics holds its annual Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in a different city each year. Minneapolis is this year’s host city, and more information about the event and its location will be released in the spring.

Worlds of Flavor International Conference and Festival 

Nov. 6-8 at The Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa, Calif.

The Culinary Institute of America hosts this annual event at its Copia campus in the heart of wine country, and chefs from around the world will convene to discuss this year’s theme of “Borders, Migration & the Evolution of Culinary Tradition.” Last year’s theme was “Authenticity, Flavor, and the Future,” and presentations included an exploration of how fried chicken serves as a vehicle for sharing culinary cultures. 

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