United Fresh 2017 "Innovation Starts Here" Wraps Up, Raina Nelson and John Toner Comment
CHICAGO, IL - Has it really been three years since my first United Fresh? Walking in to where "innovation starts" this year felt like the first time again, opening my eyes once more to all our industry can do with fruits and vegetables.
Kicking off with some out-of-this-land characters, United Fresh welcomed attendees and exhibitors with an opening reception at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, starring a few beautiful belugas.
Before the doors even opened, key issues with discussions on areas like food waste and sustainability were addressed as former Trader Joe's President Doug Rauch shared over 30 successful years of retail and produce wisdom.
Then the show began.
"Innovation, new products, it all starts here," United Fresh Association's John Toner, Vice President, Convention & Industry Collaboration, shared with me. "When you look around and you see all the newest products, the competition for the showcases, and even the quality of the conversations taking place, you can see that it all begins with the best and the brightest here and across the industry."
And amongst all those was the difficult decision of who would receive the coveted United Fresh awards for innovation, flavor, and sustainability. A big congratulations to the following 2017 Produce Innovation Awards Winners:
- Best New Food Safety Solution: Nature's Frequencies – Food Freshness Card
- Best New Fruit Product: Crunch Pak – Crunch Pak Apple Rings
- Best New Packaging: Dole Food Company – Dole GO Berries!™
- Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: Full Harvest – Full Harvest
- Best New Vegetable Product: Veggie Noodle Co. Veggie Spirals – Veggie Noodle Co. Veggiccine
"Innovation shined bright at United Fresh in Chicago. The new creative FreshTEC and FreshMKT unlocked a new format providing value and solutions to all segments of the industry. New products, knowledge, networking, and relevant resources were truly abundant," Raina Nelson, RFG’s Vice President of Sales, told me.
Tours took place bringing retailers and foodservice operators to a number of booths, introducing representatives from Food Lion, Meijer, Raley's, Sobeys, and many more to meet and try the latest in produce.
Yesterday also wrapped up welcoming Susan Reimer-Sifford as the United Fresh Association's newest Chair, whose leadership is sure to bring an exciting new chapter to the association's legacy.
Thank you, Chicago, for proving once again to be a magnificent host to our industry. Stay tuned for further coverage from the floor, and I can't wait to see you all again next year!