Discovering Fresh Horizons at United Fresh 2013 Show

May 17, 2013

Fresh fruit and vegetables, stunning displays and samples and education on best practices and social responsibility within the produce industry – that was the recipe for the 2013 United Fresh show, which attracted more than 5,000 attendees, from 4,200 in 2012, and 275-plus exhibitors, a 10-percent uptick from last year, to 65,000 square feet of exhibit space. 

This year’s show, with the theme “Discover Fresh Horizons”, was held May 14-16 at the San Diego Convention Center.

The United Fresh Produce Association's three-day event started with a keynote speech by Walter Robb, Whole Foods co-CEO, discussing the development of relationships with growers and suppliers through the retailer’s core values. And this theme was apparent on the showfloor – what is the relationship with growers and consumers to impact their lives, their livelihood and their health?

“The vision of this year’s show experience has been to really understand the consumer,” said John Toner V, vice president of Convention and Industry Relations at United Fresh. “The market demand is such that produce needs to be brought to the consumer so that it is fresher, better, faster and still economical.  How can United Fresh enable conversation, education and engagement in this endeavor?"

Business suites on the showfloor reflected that focus, inviting the attendee in for a sampling of fantastic culinary creations of a variety of fruit and produce, all cooked on site.  Moreover, the use of business suites and Learning Centers on the showfloor produced in-depth engagement and continued building of knowledge and business relationships. 

“The business (suites) have made such an impact on how we engage with our customers,” said Elliott Grant, CMO of HarvestMark. “Exhibitors can still have a traditional booth set up and supplement with a dedicated space to conduct meetings and presentations, without having to leave the exhibit hall. The business (suites) also allowed us to have a structured set up of appointments with customers, showing the ROI of attending.  Our business (suite) has been great and is something that makes a lot of sense for us.”

Long-time attendee Mark Sheparovich, divisional sales manager at Markem Imaje, said, “We went to a slightly smaller booth this year, as the shorter exhibit hours has us focusing on connecting with existing customers as well as attracting new leads. We were surprised at the shorter exhibit hall hours, and we will have to see how the condensed hours affect the attendee interactions we have.”

Attendees also remarked on the importance of the packaging and labeling of produce, something that continues to evolve and be addressed in the industry. 

“As a first-time attendee and brand new to the produce industry, I am looking forward to going through both the Fresh Tech section, as well as the Fresh Marketplace area,” said Kerry Neujahr, business development manager at Vance.  “It has been a great experience so far and very educational.”

Next year will showcase a joint trade show of Food Marketing Institute and United Fresh in Chicago, June 10–13, 2014.

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