The Inaugural Global Produce & Floral Show by the International Fresh Produce Association Hits High Notes
ORLANDO, FL - I thought I’d start this story with an acronym. As my flight coasted into the thick warm air of Central Florida for the International Fresh Produce Association’s (IFPA) inaugural Global Produce & Floral Show at the Orange County Convention Center, my heart rate began to rise and the magnitude of the week's events set in. We were about to step into a fresh produce matrix of unlimited potential offering a global event harnessed by three days, an 1,100-plus-booth exposition floor, and a rich selection of educational and insightful opportunities. All these elements were built to cultivate and galvanize our niche but expansive world of FRESH: Foundational. Responsive. Essential. Sustainable. Hands-on.
I absorbed each of those words in volume during the three-day event, as industry members came back together after a two-year hiatus for a perfect blend of the old and the new; to reconnect and reinvigorate but also to explore what the post-merger association looked and felt like and what the most innovative and insightful had to share.
“I am thrilled with the overwhelming support our first Global Produce & Floral Show received from across the supply chain this year. This was a long-overdue return to gathering in October and it was made possible due to the leadership and support of our exhibitors, sponsors, volunteer leaders, and guests," Cathy Burns, Chief Executive Officer, International Fresh Produce Association, shared in a post-show statement. "I know I am leaving Orlando feeling energized and inspired about where the global produce and floral community is headed and how IFPA can clear the path for success.”
The attendee demographic was diverse and stratified across cities, regions, countries, enterprises, categories, and backgrounds.
The fullness and comradery of being one passionate person among thousands was not lost on me. Nor was it lost on the many friends I talked to in Orlando, Florida.
Robby Cruz, Vice President of Produce Sourcing and Procurement, Target
“I think the opportunity to bring retailers and growers together helps us as an industry to do what we all want, which is to drive sales and margin through great innovation and deliver an amazing shopping experience for our guests.”
Christina Ward, Senior Director of Global Marketing, Sunkist Growers
“Sunkist Growers is coming up on its 130th anniversary, and IFPA was a great place to celebrate every bite because it nicely aligned with the start of a new California citrus season. There is something special about the produce industry and the folks representing the fresh space—we’re all pretty passionate about what we do. Our team takes pride in our ability to analyze market trends and create relevant marketing programs to grow the citrus category with our partners. It's been great to see everyone. Cheers to a zesty new season ahead!”
Josh Geyer, Category Manager, Vegetables, from The GIANT Company
“After so many cancelled trade shows and in-person visits over the past three-plus years, it's awesome to see such a huge turnout to the inaugural IFPA Global Fresh Produce & Floral Show! The GIANT Company Produce and Floral team has been looking forward to strengthening existing connections and building new connections, all while checking out what has been incubating from a new product and innovation standpoint.”
Paul Mastronardi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mastronardi Produce Ltd.
"We have been eager for the chance to share our innovations in person again at the IFPA Global Produce & Floral Show. Being able to showcase all the exciting SUNSET®, BerryWorld®, and Queen of Greens™ products for our customers has left us feeling even more inspired."
Mike Roberts, Vice President of Produce, Harps Food Stores
“It was great to see many friends and colleagues from around the globe at this year's IFPA Global Produce & Floral Expo. It is a celebration of our industry and shows just how much relationships and being in person with each other matter!”
Marianne Santo, Category Manager for Produce and Floral, Wakefern Food Corp.
“My observations at the show were many fold. Reconnecting with people we haven't seen in three years was a joyful reunion, and it was great to see each other in person to affirm that we made it through these scary years. I loved seeing the younger associates on the retail and selling sides meet for the first time as well, having never shared the experience and breadth of this show.”
The networking, reconnecting, fresh introductions, and valuable innovations were further elevated by the awards and recognitions that make this industry both competitive and cohesive. Here are some of those feats shared at the 2022 show for Best of Show:
Best Island Booth in Produce: Red Sun Farms
Best Inline Booth in Produce: Conscious Foods
Best Island Booth in Complementary Items: T. Marzetti Company
Best Inline Booth in Complementary Items: Franklin Farms
Best Island Booth in Floral: Live Trends Design Group
Best Inline Booth in Floral: Allure Farms
Best Island Booth in Business Solutions: AirFlo Merchandising Systems
Best Inline Booth in Business Solutions: Verdant Technologies
And Best First-Time Exhibitor: Northern Greens booth
From the Fresh Ideas Showcase participants:
Best Product Promo: Mastronardi Produce® – SUNSET® Qukes with Dip & Angel Sweet with Dip
Best Sustainable Packaging: Jac. Vandenberg Inc. SUNRAYS® Home Compostable Grape Bags
Not only did an incredible two-day trade show floor fill our AndNowUKnow cup, but the event schedule brought a little something (or a lot) for every person, flavor, and flair.
The week kicked off Wednesday with a Retail Produce Tour, followed by a Thursday packed to the gills with a networking breakfast and general session where Cathy Burns relayed the state of the industry and emphasized our value and purpose in producing products that impact the health and well-being of every human on the planet. Cathy touched on key impact areas from the Metaverse and innovation in sustainability and technology to inflation concerns and talent retention; adding in IFPA’s role in each arena. Those details can be read here in further depth.
Late morning brought the Education Festival, presenting an experience of fast-paced live speakers, self-guided information, networking, food, and more which elaborated on subjects that included organics, consumer behavior, supply chain challenges, controlled environment agriculture, and climate resilience.
IFPA Comms Conclaves for members also brought more exclusive content throughout the week, and a second general session, “Consumer Trends at Retail - Inflation, Labor, E-Commerce and More!” brought more food for thought to the table.
Thursday evening hosted a VIP Reception and, of course, the Welcome Reception—and welcoming it was, with hugs galore, laughter that floated up into the rafters, and cocktails and bites a-flowing.
If you can believe it, this recap of events up through Thursday afternoon barely scratches the surface.
Friday brought the Race for a Healthier World 5k—a walk/run benefiting the Foundation for Fresh Produce—for those who wanted to tap those endorphins while also giving back.
Folks that both worked up an appetite on the run and those that sought to be inspired then took to the morning’s general session, “Changing the World Through the Power of Food - A Conversation with José Andrés” which lifted our spirits and ignited our passion as the chef, restaurateur, and humanitarian told his story.
Education and exhibitors took to the show floor late morning, and the hype and energy was at an all-time high. I am still carrying around the electricity that sparked the crowd on both Friday and Saturday for the two-day, seven-hour exhibitor program.
Saturday fed off the buzz of the day before with a Women’s Fresh Perspectives Breakfast followed by the trade show floor.
There is so much more to tell as our team continues processing the event, but let me leave you with another acronym—just for kicks, and one that is an essential descriptor for those that make up our industry colleagues: strong.
Thank you, IFPA, and to an industry that continues to amaze and strengthen the power of fresh.