LOS ANGELES — Point-of-service systems and digital menu boards were among the heavily visited booths on the second day of the Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo, held Aug.23-25 at the Los Angeles Convention Center .
Suppliers and restaurant operators strolled the aisles looking at hot products in the foodservice industry, including environmentally friendly innovations in the Green Restaurant Products Pavilion. Hot items varied from aprons made from recycled plastic bottles to eco-friendly packaging made from palm fiber, sugar-cane fiber, corn starch or bamboo in a variety of platforms from tableware to carryout.
Buddy Noble, sales representative for Vernon, Calif.-based Trade Supplies, said eco-friendly packaging has improved tremendously in the last year. Eco-friendly packaging can now handle hot food products, some are microwavable, and designs are becoming more upscale.
The Gourmet Foods Pavilion continued to draw crowds, with attendees sampling clam chowder varieties as well as shrimp & lobster fradiavola and agnolotti ossobuco. Drinks also were a popular segment.
Bob Greene, president and chief executive officer of Chino, Calif.-based Caffe D'Vita, said smoothies continue to be a popular item year round, and iced coffee is growing beyond a summer beverage, especially in donut shops and bakeries.
"Consumer awareness is up," Greene said.
As the show wraps up Aug. 25, session speakers will be focusing on hot topics from mobile marketing and social networking to tips on getting customers to return time and time again.