The Industry Ramps Up for United Fresh LIVE!
- by Anne Allen
WASHINGTON, DC - Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, and the United Fresh Produce Association has been leading the charge in tackling the latest challenges across the supply chain. As our industry turns to virtual as a means to stay connected, United Fresh has taken the lead as a frontrunner of innovative online trade shows. United Fresh LIVE! was created in response to this call, especially as buy and supply continues to build relationships and business connections.
I turned to a number of industry peers both within United Fresh and out to uncover what makes the upcoming show an absolute must to attend.
“When we made this decision in March, the effects of the pandemic on our industry were changing overnight,” Mary Coppola, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, told me. “United Fresh found our stride navigating the industry through the constantly changing business environment. This is what we exist and live to do; and that focus guided our transition to a virtual show.”
With United Fresh moving its trade show online, industry members still have a chance to make integral industry connections.
Two main points that immediately stand out is that United Fresh LIVE! is free to all who wish to attend and its dates—June 15-19 LIVE! and open through September 1—allow for more industry connections to take place. Register here.
“We’ve opened the floodgates of accessibility to the industry,” added Tom Stenzel, United Fresh’s President and CEO. “By allowing engagement and exploration of the platform throughout the summer, we’re ensuring that the industry has access to all the tools possible in order to grow their business at a time when growth became as uncertain and the weather.”
One of the unique opportunities that a virtual trade show affords is the ability to more effectively divide and conquer. For example, retail buyers are encouraging their category buyers and commodity specialists to explore new products, brands, and solutions to their store’s needs, all from the comfort of their home office. Exploring different aspects of the industry never seemed so easy!
“We could never have all of our buyers at Costco travel to attend an in-person event; but now, every buyer on the Costco team can check in online to see what’s new and innovative in every produce category,” shared Frank Padilla, Vice President, General Merchandise Manager of Produce and Meat, Costco Wholesale. “They can do so live during the event, or 24-7 at their convenience.”
Throughout the week of June 15, attendees will have the chance to gather for five LIVE! general sessions including and Opening General Session on Monday, Women In Produce on Tuesday, Organics on Wednesday, the Retail-Foodservice Celebration on Thursday, and the Closing General Session on Friday. Other interactive platforms include Get Fit sessions to get the blood pumping and creativity flowing before sliding into Coffee Talks, during which industry members will discuss top-of-mind issues like cause marketing, food safety audits, and controlled environment growing.
These sessions will be followed by dedicated “Expo Power Hours,” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. Everyone logged into the platform will explore the virtual expo hall, where exhibitors will be hosting content experts, booth give-aways, and live field and facility tours. With over 200 exhibitors, including 70 new companies, you’re going to need all five days to experience the full trade show!
“We are an industry that thrives on personal connections,” remarked John Toner, United Fresh’s Vice President of Convention and Industry Collaboration. “Hand shakes and hugs are critical to our relationship building. Until we’re able to interact in that capacity again, I’ll look forward to seeing familiar faces and making new connections through United Fresh LIVE! ‘See’ you online!”
Each day will conclude with community receptions and happy hours hosted through Zoom. You may just see one redheaded trade writer in attendance!
More news will continue to crop up as we get closer to the show, so please stay tuned here at AndNowUKnow for the latest.