Southeast Produce Council's Southern Exposure 2017: the Highlights, Awards, and Events
- by Jordan Okumura
ORLANDO, FL- Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a wrap! SEPC’s 2017 Southern Exposure brought the best of the industry together for an intimate event, teeming with magic, budding conversations, and a buyer to supplier ratio to be rivaled. This year, SEPC introduced “The Magic of Produce” to the Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where a host of companies throughout the supply chain gained access to retailers and buyers from Ahold, Wakefern, Heinen's, and Earth Fare, to Central Market, Whole Foods and US Foods-just to name a handful. More than 500 retail and foodservice attendees converged in Orlando for the show. Perfect weather, a lush resort, and the company of some of our favorite Disney characters only added to the excitement and passion around the event.
“This show was absolutely outstanding in every single area, and every way,” Teri Miller, The Fresh Market Senior Category Manager for Produce, and Council President shared with me. “I saw booths and aisles full of smiling produce professionals connecting with each other like this was a family reunion-catching up on what’s changed, what’s new, and how we can continue helping one another. Our theme was The Magic of Produce—David Sherrod and his team did an amazing job of using magic to promote produce, making our 2017 Southern Exposure truly Impactful.”
Attendees took the theme to heart this year, and came in costume with booth décor to match, inspired by the magic of the show.
So, what awards were given out at this year’s Southern Exposure trade show? Check out–and congratulate–the winners below!
- First Place: J&J Family of Farms
- Second Place: New Limeco
- Third Place: Dimare Fresh
- First Place: Shuman Produce Team
- Second Place: Leslie Simmons, Dave's Specialties
- Third Place: Mike Adams, Reichel Foods
In addition to the booth and costume awards, the SEPC Lifetime Membership Award was given to Garry Bergstrom, who recently retired from Publix where he was the Director of Produce and Floral.
Upon accepting award, Garry shared with crowd that he was once told, "Not to take the industry so personally, it’s just business."
“I said, ‘are you kidding.’ We love this business…its personal,” Garry shared and smiled, reflecting on that moment. “I thought to myself, we pour our hearts into this business. We love this business. Of course it’s personal–because we care. You know, I think to, that this business, the business I’m in, is all about people. This is a people business. We just happen to sell produce. “
Words to live by.
In addition to Garry’s award, Sheila Carden of the National Watermelon Promotion Board was honored with the Terry Vorhees Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in the industry, dedication for SEPC, and contributions to the health of the industry.
Amongst the many other awards, workshops, and events, SEPC brought Willie Robertson, CEO of Duck Commander, the parent company behind Duck Dynasty, to lead Southern Exposure’s keynote luncheon on Saturday. The entire room was full of laughter, stories of challenge and success, an entrepreneurial spirit, and in the end–the creation of a business model and the process that goes into building a brand.
SEPC also brought Alison Levine, Sportswoman and Leadership Consultant, to energize the Southern Roots luncheon and share how finding strength in each other is the key to success. And from the sound of the feedback–the inspiration was far and wide.
Announced at the show, and new this year for SEPC, is a twist on the popular Southern Innovations. Taking the event to a whole new level, SEPC is evolving the trade show to the new Southern Innovations Organics and Foodservice Expo. The organic and foodservice markets are growing rapidly and SEPC is looking to provide retail and foodservice professionals with the best of organics and foodservice that produce has to offer. Registration opens May 2017.
As for 2018’s Southern Exposure event, the trade show will switch up locations and bring the industry together next year in Tampa, Florida. Til then–let show season begin and I’ll see you all soon!