The International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) today concluded the 2022 SMart, a memorable experience that delivered uniquely valuable educational opportunities and showcased the vibrancy of the distribution community. The reworked show experience packed a robust educational schedule into 1.5 days, enabling the industry’s busy sales and marketing professionals to maximize their takeaways while minimizing their time commitment.
“There’s a special energy when we’re able to gather in-person as an industry, and that passion and camaraderie was on full display these past few days in New Orleans,” said IFDA President and CEO Mark Allen. “SMart was an event that looked boldly forward, with content that reflects foodservice distributors’ adaptability to change and commitment to innovation.”
The event was led by international sales leader Julien Leblanc, who exhilarated the crowd with his infectious energy and commitment to sparking new conversations. Whether asking attendees to find someone they don’t know for an impromptu chat or having everyone shuffle their seats mid-day, Leblanc delivered on SMart’s focus on building new industry connections.
The world-class roster of speakers included analysts, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and educators. NPD Group’s David Portalatin kicked off the event with an up-to-the-minute look at foodservice trends, which was supplemented by a lively panel featuring Van Eerden Foodservice’s John Allen and Lamb Weston’s Tracy Wolfe. Innovators Caleb Gardner and Alex Davisson challenged the audience to think about disruption opportunities, while a memorably frenetic group exercise inspired attendees to dig deep into their communications toolbox.
The one-two punch of Fiona Lee and Kelly Grogan ended day one on a high note, with both delivering unique perspectives on technology-driven changes to the distribution landscape. Day two featured a stirring conclusion to the event as University of Virginia Professor Jared Harris and New Orleans culinary entrepreneur Amy Sins highlighted timeless leadership traits.
With plenty of hard work on the schedule, attendees still had ample time for recreation. From the opening brass band parade through the French Quarter to a raucous night at a local speakeasy, SMart offered plentiful opportunities for industry friends old and new to spend meaningful time together.
SMart took place July 17-19 at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans. Next year, SMart returns from July 23-25 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando.