TRIDEC seeks growth of food manufacturing trade show

The Tri-City Development Council, or TRIDEC, is getting ready to stage its second FABREO Expo and is making some changes to create a more trade-friendly event.

In fact, this year FABREO, June 15-16 at TRAC in Pasco, will be a trade-only event. The inaugural event in 2015 featured a public wine- and food-tasting portion.

“We eliminated the restaurant portion as exhibitors,” said Gary White, TRIDEC’s director of business retention and expansion and its FABREO Expo organizer.

White said the inaugural FABREO event went very well on the trade and commercial side, but the consumer portion made it more difficult for the trade professionals make the networking connections with the small food manufacturers.

“It created a bit of an unwanted dichotomy,” White said.

The event has been stretched to two days and it is focuses on helping area small food manufacturers introduce their products and make connections with exporters, distributors and other industry professionals.

Creating a successful expo takes years of experimenting with what works and learning from what doesn’t, White said. TRIDEC learned that by experience with its SmartMap Expo, which started with a handful of vendors grew to more than 100 exhibitors within four years.

White said last year, the FABREO Expo drew about 100 exhibitors and he said they are on track to have that level of participation this year.

But this year, the event will feature an educational arm, in addition to the networking prospects.

On June 15, FABREO’s opening day, there will be a Food & Beverage Boot Camp, with several seminars geared toward small food manufacturers.

The Boot Camp will be 1 to 5 p.m. and feature four seminars focusing on the food and beverage basics: marketing, packaging, ecommerce and the how the industry works.

“They will learn how brokers interface with distributors, about exporting and more,” said White.

White said the seminars will answer many of the questions that frequently were asked by the small food manufacturing start-up company owners.

White said many of those entrepreneurs were meeting industry professionals, like brokers, for the first time, and they didn’t always understand the language and industry terms being used. The seminars will answer those questions for the entrepreneurs, who will then be better equipped to answer questions from the brokers, exporters, packagers and others they meet during the networking portions of the expo.

Expo participants will also have the opportunity to attend a networking reception at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Wine Science Center at Washington State University Tri-Cities from 6-9 p.m. on the Expo’s opening day.

“All the exhibitors, sponsors and attendees can go to that, and that will be really cool,” White said.

Thursday, June 16, begins with more “Success Seminars, which take place from 8 a.m. to noon. Presenters will include Dr. Robert J. Harrington, professor of hospitality and wine business management for WSU Tri-Cities and Joe Bippert, international marketing program manager for the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

FABREO’s main expo will follow from 1-5 p.m.

Daily admission is $25. The FABREO Expo is a trade-only event and all participants must be at least 21 years old.

For more information call White at 509-735-1000 or go to fabreo.org, where you can also register online.

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