SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The 2012 Illinois Products Expo was a record-breaker.
The two-day show, which featured food, wine and agricultural products from 77 Illinois companies, attracted 7,718 consumers, shattering the former record of 6,566*.
Those who attended brought their wallets as well as their appetites. Participating companies reported record sales of $130,000, 13 percent more than the previous high of $115,000.
“I had no idea what to expect as far as sales. To be blunt, I was ecstatic,” Mark Croy, owner of ReMARKable Caramels, said. “The show was everything I wished for, both in terms of sales and exposure. I made several contacts with grocers, distributors and others interested in carrying my product.”
“If you happen to own a company and to produce a food product in Illinois, you need to be an exhibitor at this show,” Julie Hubbard, owner of Julie’s Corner Store, added. “It is one of the easiest ways to get your product into the hands of Illinois consumers.”
The expo is just one of the strategies the department uses to find markets for Illinois products, support agriculture-based employment and strengthen the Illinois economy.
Last fiscal year, for example, it also participated in 16 international and domestic trade shows, led 13 foreign buyers’ missions and industry tours, facilitated 7,102 buyer-seller introductions and disseminated 383 trade leads to Illinois companies.
These activities generated $59 million in actual sales and another $119 million in projected sales for Illinois food companies and agribusinesses.
“Our marketing activities are not only a sound investment in Illinois agriculture, but also a sound investment in the Illinois economy,” Illinois Department of Agriculture Acting Director Bob Flider said. “The trade shows and trade missions we organize increase demand for our agricultural products in markets around the world and create jobs in an industry that employs nearly one-fourth of the state’s workers.”
Every dollar the department spent on marketing yielded $46 in sales last fiscal year, nearly five times greater than the industry’s standard return on investment of $10 for each dollar in expenses.
The 15th annual Illinois Products Expo will be held March 2-3, 2013.
*The Expo was a three-day event its first six years. The record three-day attendance, which this year’s two-day total also exceeded, was 7,681.