The topic is food and refrigeration.

They certainly go together, technically speaking. For foods such as ice cream, milk, and meats to be a part of menus, there needs to be refrigeration equipment.

But this column is about finding out what's new in refrigeration amidst a lot of food.

Two of the biggest trade shows in the refrigeration sector are the FMI Expo in spring and the IKK Expo in fall.

The spring show in Chicago, IL, is sponsored by the Food Marketing Institute. Basically, everything for a supermarket is at the show.

Those in attendance are those who decide what signage and aesthetics are needed to draw customers into the store, what items will go on the shelves and in the display cases for customers to buy, and what refrigeration equipment and components are needed to keep products that need refrigeration fresh.

Since most products in a supermarket are consumable, vendors of such products want decisionmakers who walk by their booths to consume the products. There are a lot more products than there is space in even the largest supermarket, so vendors battle to get space on shelves or just hold onto their shelf space.

The way they do it at FMI is by passing out free samples to as many people as possible.

The IKK show in Germany has a bit different approach, but the net result is the consumption of much food and drink. The show deals primarily with refrigeration equipment, including innovative technology that may make its way to the United States.

When you visit most booths at the IKK show, those staffing such booths don't want you to just take a quick look and grab a piece of literature. They want you to sit and talk for a bit.

And while you're there, they offer you some food and drink, the latter often of the alcoholic kind. It is the way business is done there, and with the expo in its 22nd year, it is obviously a successful method.

For those of you in the refrigeration sector of the hvacr industry, who have a voice in purchasing the products you work with (and I suspect that is most of you), the FMI and IKK expos are worth considering.

One warning: If you plan to attend, stop eating now! Stop drinking anything but water now! These shows are six months apart and you will need every day of that time to get in fighting shape should you give in to the food's allure.

Your suit may be a bit loose at the start of each show, but by the end of each show's three-day run, that will hardly be a problem.