ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Even as the nation was emerging from the worst months of the recession, the Atlantic Bakery Expo was deemed a success, show officials said. SN spoke with Kenneth Downey Sr., expo chairman, the week after the event had closed.
Downey, director of bakery sales and merchandising for Parsippany, N.J.-based Kings Super Markets — which has 25 stores under the Kings banner, as well as six Balducci's Markets — is the first supermarket bakery executive to have ever served as chairman of the regional show.
Downey said that everything about the show was positive, especially the quality of attendance and of products exhibited.
“Exhibitors said they were pleased with the amount of attendance and also the quality of the attendance, and all the educational seminars were full,” Downey said. “Even the seminars that attendees had to pay for were sold out.”
He was in the process of sending out surveys to all attendees and exhibitors to get more feedback, but judging from comments he heard on the show floor, Downey said everybody was pleased. No negative comments.
The show drew 7,000 attendees, bringing attendance up 18% from the last Atlantic Bakery Expo, in fall 2008.
“Representatives from all the big chains in the Northeast were there, as well as several independents,” Downey said.
The expo, the largest bakery show on the East Coast, is sponsored every two years by the New Jersey Bakers Board of Trade and the New York State Association of Manufacturing Retail Bakers.
The total of number of exhibitors, 216 this year, matched the number participating in the 2008 event, Downey said. And, 20% of exhibitors this year have already signed up for the next show in 2012.
“We told vendors that we wanted them to show every possible new thing that had become available in the last year.”
Supermarket bakery people are always looking for new packaging and for new products, Downey said.
“There were lots of new artisan breads, par-baked, shown. Artisan breads are getting bigger and better all the time.”
Downey also pointed to sugar-free and gluten-free products — thaw-and-sell items — that got a lot of attention at the show.
“Sugar-free has a definite niche. You get those customers and you have them forever,” he said. “We found a new sugar-free line that we'll add. That line has everything: cookies, cakes, pies and beautiful packaging, too. There's even a rack attractive enough to make it a destination.”