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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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.