Industry Celebrates Viva Fresh 2019: Heidi McIntyre, Jon Holder, Rex Lawrence, and Joseph Bunting Comment
SAN ANTONIO, TX - This year’s Viva Fresh Produce Expo did not disappoint. Crowds converged on South Texas to learn, network, and experience the incredible innovation and bountiful agricultural opportunities inherent to the Texas-Mexico corridor.
And while many know Viva Fresh, some may not be aware of the contributions of Full Tilt Marketing, Heidi McIntyre, and her team, who have worked tirelessly to promote and organize the event as it’s grown from a regional startup to a must-attend draw.
“The measure of success for any event has always been attendance. Sell-out crowds and packed events have felt like a win since day one, especially as we’ve grown to include nearly 400 buyers who make this show a priority and come back year after year,” said Heidi McIntyre, Managing Partner, Full Tilt Marketing. “What’s harder to measure, but just as important to the measure of success, are the intangibles like excitement and positive feedback we receive from sponsors, exhibitors, buyers, and even vendors who participate in this show.”
The record-breaking event, held April 25-27 at the JW Marriott San Antonio, Texas, boasted 2,300 attendees—including more than 370 representatives from retail and foodservice companies.
Heidi noted that, across all these categories, Viva Fresh 2019 was an unequivocal smash success—with excellent feedback redoubling the impression with which the show’s record numbers left the attendees and organizers.
“Since day one we’ve sought to be different. To create education that inspires, food and flavors that transcend traditional banquet food, signage that wows and tells stories, and even space for meaningful and personal networking,” noted Heidi. “The explosive growth of the Tex-Mex corridor is vital to our industry, and this show has always been a tool to reflect the vitality and energy this region brings to the fresh produce industry. That is the true success story of Viva Fresh.”
From the show’s opening golf tournament to its impressive slate of education sessions, its Innovations Showcase feature, and its impressive show floor experience, the growth of the show mirrored the growth of the produce industry throughout the region.
Since its inception in 2015, Viva Fresh has grown from a small show celebrating the Lower Rio Grande Valley, to a must-attend event boasting an intimate setting and a near-ideal buyer-supplier ratio.
“The 2019 Viva Fresh Expo did not disappoint. It was very informative, at a fantastic venue, and intimate enough to not feel rushed to get through the show floor.” said Jon Holder, Superior Grocers. "The expo was just the right size for a regional event and I am excited to see what the team at TIPA comes up with next.”
And while it may seem gauche to focus too heavily on it, Viva Fresh 2019 brought, perhaps above all else, value. Rex Lawrence, President of Joe Produce told us that return on investment is on of the biggest draws for a show like Viva Fresh.
“What an event!—from the City and venue to the time of year, and of course the people and execution,” Rex exclaimed, “and most importantly—ROI, everyone I spoke thought it was worth the investment of time and money. They had worthwhile meetings and conversations with both customers and suppliers. At the end of the day, fun is fun, and we all had plenty of that, but ROI is where the 'rubber meets the road," and Viva Fresh 2019 delivered! My one request is that they extend the expo to 6 hours.”
Service providers, exhibitors, and retailers alike were drawn to the show’s remarkable value proposition.
“I thought the 2019 Viva Fresh Expo was another huge success! This show continues to improve each year and continues to provide great opportunities to strengthen current relationships and develop new relationships to help move our business forward. This show also offers some great educational classes that helps keep us on trend with what is going on in the industry,” Joseph Bunting, Produce Business Director at United Supermarkets and Advisory Board member shared with me. “This show is a true regional event that we look forward to attending again next year.”
AndNowUKnow will continue to bring you more coverage of the action-packed 2019 event. And we’ll see you in San Antonio next year for what’s sure to be another excellent Viva Fresh.