United Fresh 2014 Highlights and Innovations
- by Jordan Okumura
CHICAGO, IL - It is an exciting time in fresh produce, especially when it is your first time in Chicago! As the trade show portion of United Fresh Produce Association's annual convention and expo in Chicago wrapped up yesterday, attendees joined together to cast their votes throughout the show for fresh produce innovation and recognized this year's New Product Awards in five categories.
This year’s event represented 328 companies – a 15% growth in exhibitors over last year. Attendees matched San Diego numbers, which is over 4,500 attendees for the United Fresh show.
The award categories were competitive and brought some of the best of our industries innovations to the forefront of the industry. The category awards were delivered in the areas of Best New Food Safety Solution, Best New Fruit Product, Best New Packaging, Best New Packing/Processing Equipment, and Best New Vegetable Product. More than 40 fresh fruit and vegetable innovations competed in the showcase.
The 2014 New Product Award winners announced today are:
Best New Food Safety Solution: FoodLink Fresh - FoodLink
Best New Fruit Product: Crunch Pak with Marvel Apple Snacker, Crunch Pak
Best New Packaging Product: Josie’s Organics Romaine Hearts, Braga Fresh Family Farms
Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: STRAWBERRY CAPPER Mod. Frazer, Turatti S.R.L.
Best New Vegetable Product: Y.E.L.O., Mastronardi Produce/Sunset
"These winning products have been selected by United attendees as outstanding representations of the new approaches, ideas and processes that are driving the fresh fruit and vegetable industry forward, and we applaud them for their product development," said John Toner, United's vice president of convention & industry relations. "From its very beginnings, the United show has been the undisputed home of innovation for the produce industry, and these awards continue to showcase the best and brightest minds in the produce business."
The new products and solutions that graced the show are evidence of the leaps and bounds the industry is taking in innovation, partnerships and fresh concepts.
Other great highlights hits from the event were keynote addresses from Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw, who offered his insights on the future trends in the supermarket retail industry, while The Packer named Tony Freytag, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Crunch Pak Sliced Apples, as the company’s Person of the Year.
The Thursday evening festivities, brought together an amazing group of people for the Reception Honoring Women in Produce. While the reception honors all women working in the produce industry the event also recognizes one outstanding female industry leader. Teri Miller, Produce Category Manager, Delhaize America, received the award this year, presented by Lisa McNeece, Vice President, Foodservice and Industrial Sales, of Grimmway Enterprises Inc., who received the award in 2013. The room was complete with industry leaders, up-and-comers, both female and male.
The Fresh Marketplace Learning Center and FreshTech Learning Center on the show floor offered a variety of perspectives from our industry peers ranging from opportunities to drive produce sales at the school level and new fresh-cut equipment design developments, to food safety issues, restaurant trends and a Women in Produce panel to inspire the next generation of produce professionals.
Thanks again, United, for creating an atmosphere for promoting innovation, the sharing of ideas and fresh produce!
Stay tuned for an upcoming article on some of my United Fresh product favorites, almost too many to count.