2018 Show Highlighted The New

May 7, 2018

The 2018 show has been called “dynamic” and “inspiring.” It drew more than 4,400 attendees and 313 exhibiting companies, according to Lindsey Nelson, the vice president of programs and services for NAMA. 

Many new features were presented in 2018, including a new product zone that highlighted more than 100 new products and a “captivation station” dome that hosted several small on-floor presentations. The 2018 NAMA Show also presented its most comprehensive educational line-up yet with double the number of breakout sessions offered in 2017. 

Technology and healthy products were some of the main focuses of operator attendees, many of whom enjoyed seeing technology first hand, learning about its implementation in sessions and being able to taste new products.

Change And Innovation

Heidi Chico, the 2018 Chair of NAMA wrapped up her term with a message of innovation and the need for change during the opening session of the NAMA Show 2018on March 21. 

NAMA CEO Carla Balakgie echoed Chico’s words, adding that the vending industry could not continue “business as usual.” Businesses and consumers were changing, forcing the industry to expand into other segments, and to stay in line with what is coming next. In her view, “convenience services.”

Artificial Intelligence

During the 2018 NAMA Show, the Coca-Cola Company hosted “Artificial Intelligence For Business Growth: How The Coca-Cola Company Is Leveraging A New Species Of Thinking.” Jason Hosking, CEO of HIVERY, an artificial intelligence company told attendees that the artificial intelligent (AI) revolution is already upon us. He argued that AI allows computers to beat many experts, from chess to early diagnosis of breast cancer. He was followed by Reza Kasravi, Head of IT Strategy, Architecture & Operations, Coca-Cola North America — the Coca-Cola company and Matt Robards, Cofounder, Data Scientist of HIVERY, who talked about current AI functions and improving decision making by AI removing human biases. 

Finally, Ed DeFraine (pictured), vice president food service and on-premise at Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling, discussed his experience with the HIVERY analytics program. 

“We were impressed,” he said. “Analytics has become a way of life for us, and it’s been readily adopted, unlike other technologies.” It resulted in 15 percent fewer restocking trips and 6 percent in additional revenues.

Read the full recap here


Technology was big news in and out of the education sessions. Dr. Michael Kasavana continued his long-standing V-commerce discussion on the trends of technology and young industry professionals reviewed technology’s impact on multiple generations. The main message: mobile is up and coming, from more people of all ages experimenting with mobile payments to the use of mobile devices in  the operations side of the business. 

Hot Topic

On Thursday, March 22 there was a session on Nutrition and Wellness Trends. The speakers started off talking about merchandising to capitalize on consumer’s habits. They agreed that if you get health and wellness right, you’ll change the consumer’s perception forever. The industry, they noted, is reacting to health trends but is changing from a reactive state to a proactive one, in which they (the consumers) are taking charge of their health seriously.
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National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA)

May 7, 2009
Executive Staff Carla Balakgie, FASAE, CAE, President & CEO Dan Mathews, NCE5, CCS, Executive Vice President & COO Eric Dell, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs Dean Gilland...

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