HOUSTON — During a keynote address to International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) membership at its annual convention and expo held June 9-11 in Houston, David Haaf, the association’s president and CEO, shared IDDBA’s strategic initiatives to strengthen the organization and its members.

“IDDBA is heavily engaged in our strategic initiatives and long-range planning to redefine and mould our vision, processes and resources to better support our great community of members and the industry,” Haaf said.

The plan includes three strategic imperatives: show evolution, extended impact and expanding the audience.

Show evolution

Celebrations have emerged as a key trend in food culture, and they have manifested in the IDDBA culture as well. From booth events on the show floor to personal interactions in the What’s In Store Live feature, celebration is a key theme throughout.

“We will enhance the celebration experience that has become one of our trademarks,” Haaf said. “It’s created a fun, educational and networking experience that’s second to none.”

For IDDBA, building on that experience has involved envisioning the booth of the future, including extensive research through insights from members and collaboration with different tradeshow professionals.

That work also involves evaluating show costs and related expenses and determining how cost-streaming opportunities can benefit exhibitors while still offering attendees the celebratory experience the show is known for.

Extended impact

As the food industry trends toward a new generation of leadership, IDDBA is rethinking industry standards, learning processes and industry involvement to appropriately align with that generational shift.

“The next generation’s vision of workplace relevance is not the same as our older leadership,” Haaf explained. “We must meet people where they are.”

To achieve that, IDDBA will explore smaller, regional microsite venues to bring educational resources to members’ markets and provide an opportunity for vender partners to interact with their customers in more local settings.

With a more localized impact, IDDBA can also create professional development opportunities for smaller groups that offer a more intimate learning experience and networking opportunity.


“These types of microsite venues will allow us to communicate with a wider range of industry leadership, while minimizing expenses and time away from the office,” Haaf added. “At the same time, it’s an efficient way to aid in professional development and grow sales.”

The extended impact initiative will also continue the association’s year-round member engagement efforts, refining the member dialogue experience through personal interaction, chat sessions, social media and virtual webinars.

“The next generation’s vision of workplace relevance is not the same as our older leadership. We must meet people where they are.” — David Haaf | president and CEO | IDDBA


Expanding the audience

Consolidation has impacted nearly every aspect of the food industry — whether in retail or manufacturing — and IDDBA remains focused on helping its members overcome the challenges that come with it.

Haaf noted this strategic initiative will involve outreach into tangential sectors such as c-stores as well as colleges and universities.

With that expanded view, IDDBA also recognizes the role foodservice plays in relation to the dairy-deli-bakery for supermarkets. In fact, Haaf noted that foodservice sales accounted for 26.9% of in-store sales — a 1.3% increase — in 2023.

“Foodservice awareness at retail is an opportunity,” he said. “Retailers have become a foodservice destination, and that creates plenty of growth opportunities. It’s on us — the IDDBA team — to help grow that image.”

This initiative also involves the “I” in IDDBA … “international.” That means growing the association’s international presence will be a key point of focus.


“We have members worldwide in 28 countries,” Haaf said. “We believe there is great opportunity to expand our presence with international relations.”

IDDBA will focus on becoming a top-of-mind resource for helping overseas companies understand the process of getting their products and services into the US market.

“We want to connect them with a multitude of great distributors, brokers and retailers,” Haaf said. “We can connect these companies with members who want to partner or serve as a liaison. This will benefit our retailers by introducing them to important international offerings that will benefit their customers.”

Additionally, this initiative involves evaluating how IDDBA can be a resource for members to push their products into international markets by helping facilitate processes that will aid in members’ ability to grow their businesses overseas.

Haaf reiterated IDDBA’s focus on the future and the role the association will play in not only recognizing the challenges that come with an evolving industry but also helping members overcome them.

“Our vision of meeting people where  they are will help our members in the evolution of people development and customer shopping habits,” he said. “We believe that this, in turn, will assist our members with valuable insights to help shape their strategies, product visions and services. Providing professional development and building industry relations will be a vital part of the stability and growth for our great industry.”