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IFDA Distribution Conference & Expo in Atlanta Opens Amid Acclaim

"We couldn't be happier. The turnout, enthusiasm and involvement have been outstanding," Steven Potter, senior vice president of industry relations for the Falls Church, VA-based association, told ID Access on the show floor.

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According to the event's organizer, there are more than 900 participants in attendance from160 distributorships and 220 supplier-exhibitors. The conference and expo have been designed to provide foodservice distributors a host of workshops and technological innovations that will help them become efficient and effective.

"First day's impressions are great because the educational sessions have been great and I've heard a lot of good responses from people that have attended them. When they come onto the floor and realize and that is foodservice distribution only and that all of the exhibitors are here for us, the reaction of vendors that support us, and distributor-participants that I've seen walking around has been great. It's just very exciting and there's a lot of energy," observed Mac Sullivan, conference chairman and president and coo of ID Top 50 Pate Dawson Co.

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Potter echoed Sullivan's sentiments about vendors' reactions, saying their feedback has been excellent.

"They're very happy with the flow and they are very happy with how we are merging workshop subjects onto the exhibition floor. We have educational sessions that we're conducting on the expo floor that allow the exhibitors to actually get involved in panel discussions. They have an audience that can listen about the latest developments," Potter said.

Numerous distributors also expressed that the conference and expo have provided them with new insights about being efficient supply chain partners.

One of the more popular sessions on the first day dealt with energy conservation and efficiency and other so-called green issues for foodservice distributors. Sysco's representatives, Pete Richter and Mike Downs, gave examples of what the No.1 North American distributorship has undertaken to be energy efficient. Two weeks ago ID Access began presenting a variety of ideas and sources that can help distributors initiate similar projects.

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Potter added that IFDA is committed to making the event as successful as possible and has already begun planning next year's conference and expo, which will be held Oct. 7-9, 2007, in Louisville, KY.

"Next year we want to expand this into more of a supply chain event. We will be contacting food manufacturers and suppliers because they have logistics experts who interface indirectly with foodservice distribution operations people. There are synergies there that we could use that could help the supply chain," Potter said. "We want manufacturers involved so that we could have a good exchange of information. We create problems for their people and they create problems for our people and the only way to address and correct them is to bring them to the top of the table and work together to make the supply chain better."

The event at the Georgia International Convention Center will close Tuesday, Oct. 17. At its conclusion, IFDA will hold its first Fuel Summit from 1-3:30 PM at the Atlanta Airport Hilton Hotel.

The conference and expo are co-sponsored by UniPro Foodservice, Frosty Acres Brands, Inc., Golbon, Progressive Group Alliance, and Independent Marketing Alliance.

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