The 2013 International Poultry Expo (IPE) is celebrating its 65th anniversary in a big way in Atlanta, January 29-31, 2013. Since 2007, the IPE has been working hand-in-hand with the American Feed Industry Association’s International Feed Expo, and growth has been dramatic. Trade Show Executive magazine ranked the 2011 Expo (the latest for which they have surveyed) as the 50th largest trade show in America.

The American Meat Institute’s International Meat Expo will be integrated into the mix in 2013, forming the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). The synergy between the organizations has exceeded all expectations, as the IPPE will encompass more than 420,000 square feet of exhibit space with more than 1,075 exhibitors. This year’s show will feature more that 200 international exhibitors and 300-plus new suppliers. More than 25,000 attendees are anticipated, representing more than 100 countries.

The joining together of forces reflects the evolution of both the industries served by the trade shows and the trade shows themselves.  The poultry industry has evolved from one that was dominated by family controlled, regional operations to one that has expanded internationally and taken on a much more corporate form of management.  In an industry that measures success in fractions of a cent in margins, technology and the need to have broader reach across the customer base, consolidation has been the trend for the last 30 years. Initially, the consolidation was one poultry company taking over another. In today’s environment, the consolidation has taken a more horizontal feel with the large poultry companies being basic in a number of animal species. Just look at Tyson, Cargill, JBS/Pilgrim’s Pride. Thirty-seven broiler companies process almost all of the broiler meat in the United States. On the turkey side, the number is just a little more than 20.

Concurrent with the consolidation for the American poultry industry has been the dramatic consolidation of suppliers to the poultry industries. The consolidation has taken place all the way from the number of companies providing breeding stock through the entire production and processing chain. Not only has the number of suppliers diminished, many U.S.-based companies have been bought and folded into multi-national companies. Focus for growth in the poultry industries has been international in scope. The technology seen in the United States is now commonplace in Asia and Europe.

Looking back just 10 years ago, the primary function of the IPE was to provide networking opportunities to bring suppliers and customers together. Although trade shows have consistently been shown to be one of the most cost-effective marketing and sales tools, we have had to broaden our approach by providing a more extensive array of educational programs. This is one area where the partnership with AMI and AFIA has yielded excellent results.

As we look to the future, new technologies will open the doors for new suppliers to the industry. We have to keep in mind that technology is dramatically shortening product life cycles, therein placing pressure on keeping current with the latest trends in order to stay competitive.  The face-to-face marketing inherent with trade shows provides an excellent means of staying current, but it is our job to make sure that the IPE and IPPE of the future evolve with the industries we serve.