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Highlights: 2022 Viva Fresh Expo Recap

Highlights: 2022 Viva Fresh Expo Recap

GRAPEVINE, TX - We are our own solution to untapped demand.

This is what the Viva Fresh Expo continues to convey as the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) works to inspire produce professionals to be our own champions by living the example of how we want consumers to live.

In short, is increasing our own consumption of fresh produce the answer to unlocking a stronger foothold in the North American diet? At the very least, we hold the keys to all the benefits we know fresh produce provides.

The ribbon is officially cut on Texas International Produce Association's 2022 Viva Fresh Expo

This was initially impressed upon us at a panel featuring alumni of Viva Fresh’s successful Clean Eating Challenge.

Moderated by Produce for Better Health’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, it included Tommy Wilkins, Grow Farm Texas; Jay Alley, Fresh Innovations, LLC; Ashley Ojeda Porter, H-E-B; and Ed Bertaud, IFCO. The panel discussed their journey with the challenge, mentoring those that wish to follow, and how embracing the power of produce has influenced not just their lives, but their jobs and those around them.

Ultimately, as Ashley put it, be as passionate to sell to those around us as we are to sell to each other.

The message was clearly and enthusiastically received by the 2,200 attendees, including nearly 400 retail and foodservice members, who came to the Gaylord Texan Resort to connect and stir up growth for the industry.

Tony Mitchell, Vice President of Corporate Produce, Associated Wholesale Grocers“Hats off to the Viva Fresh staff for hosting another great event in Texas! It was great to see everyone again and all the excitement generated by this event,” Tony Mitchell, Vice President of Corporate Produce for Associated Wholesale Grocers, shared.

This sentiment was echoed by TIPA President and Chief Executive Officer Dante Galeazzi.

Dante Galeazzi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Texas International Produce Association“This year, Viva Fresh in one word is excitement,” Dante said. “As the organizer, I never knew when that excitement was going to fall off, but it was there from start to finish. People were excited. As show organizers, that makes us excited, because that means we were able to deliver on our mission to promote this region and give people the opportunity to do great business in a great setting.”

Attendance, it seems, bounced quickly back to the level of show numbers seen in 2019.

And it felt like many were there at the In Bloom Luncheon, which celebrated and connected produce women in a fun Speak Easy-themed atmosphere of “Real Talk.”

Exiting Chair April Flowers and Incoming Chair Michelle Cortes tapped Pure Flavor’s Tiffany Sabelli, DMA Solutions’ Dan’l Mackey Almy, and Summer Citrus of South Africa’s Suhanra Conradie for some of their most pivotal and challenging moments, culminating in a reflection on chasing work/life balance.

Pictured left to right: Michelle Cortez, who moderated the In Bloom panel "Speak Easy: Real Women, Real Talk" session with April Flowers (far right), stands next to panelists Tiffany Sabelli, Dan’l Mackey Almy, and Suhanra Conradie

And let me tell you, that did not go how you might expect, with the entire stage agreeing that the balance does not actually exist. Instead, as Dan’l said, it is important to understand it is not the company’s job to provide balance. It is in our power individually, and our responsibility, to make space for ourselves. And grace when we are not perfect.

But, also to remember, as Suhanra pointed out, that having a conversation on work-life balance is a luxury in a world where many just need the work.

It was a perfect match in the overall message of health, which Luncheon Keynote Speaker Dave McGillivray eloquently pointed out is more than fitness.

Dave McGillivray, Race Director, Philanthropist, Motivational Speaker, Athlete, Businessman, and Author“Just because you’re fit doesn’t mean you’re healthy…I thought it did. I think a lot of people do, and that’s what gets them in trouble,” the Race Director, Philanthropist, Motivational Speaker, accomplished Athlete, Businessman, and Author reflected as he shared a journey of amazing physical accomplishments. Yet, he still needed major heart surgery, and realized more was needed to look after himself. “Now, I’m not only fit, I’m healthy. That’s what you people do for us.”

John Toner, Vice President of Political Affairs, International Fresh Produce AssociationFew in our own industry demonstrate this like John Toner, Vice President of Political Affairs for the International Fresh Produce Association and this year’s Healthy Living Award recipient.

John has lost 180-plus pounds since beginning his own Clean Eating Challenge and openly shared the trials and triumphs of his journey for us.

James Bassetti, Chief Operating Officer at Little Bear Produce, reminded us all that the Healthy Living Award usually goes to doctors and health professionals.

James Bassetti, Chief Operating Officer, Little Bear Produce“John’s one of us; he is produce through and through,” he said after Tommy Wilkins accepted the award on John’s behalf with a touching letter on the meaning of this moment and how we can further increase fresh produce consumption. “This is the power of our industry.

A strong message to carry onto the showfloor as the ribbon was cut on the official expo Saturday, April 23. Buyers and attendees poured into the rows to visit and explore 200 exhibitors’ wares as ideas and possibilities were explored.

The show's message was clearly and enthusiastically received by the 2,200 attendees, including nearly 400 retail and foodservice members, who came to the Gaylord Texan Resort to connect and stir up growth for the industry

It was the perfect finale to three days of a whirlwind Lower-Rio-Grande-Valley-trade-corridor experience.

Jen Velasquez, Director of Marketing, Full Tilt Marketing"We’re thrilled to bring the Viva Fresh experience to our attendees once again—a premier opportunity unlike any other to learn, feast on culinary delights, and, of course, make and cultivate fresh connections within our industry," shared Jen Velasquez, Director of Marketing for Full Tilt Marketing. "We’ll see you back in Dallas March 30–April 1, 2023!"

By the time we made it to the (very crowded) show floor, we were all reminiscing and discussing experiences we had shared this week, as well as planning for the future.

And isn’t that what a great trade show is all about?

Here is to the power we hold in building a standard that puts our industry at the top of the food chain, on our own plates and beyond.

Viva Fresh Expo Texas International Produce Association

Companies in this Story

Texas International Produce Association

The Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) was created in 1942 by a group of industry leaders who shared a vision...