US Foods' Matt Roy and Walmart's Richard Gonzales Discuss United Fresh's Partner X-Change Program
WASHINGTON, DC - You might have already heard, but United Fresh’s newly debuted Partner X-Change matchmaking program for this year’s convention and expo has officially sold out! That means suppliers looking to chat up buyers from Albertsons, Costco, Hy-Vee, Publix, and many more might be needing to get creative with how they finagle their way into that room—Weasley’s Extendable Ears anyone? Luckily, I was able to catch Richard Gonzales, Vice President Global Produce Sourcing for Walmart, and Matt Roy, Senior Director, Produce, for US Foods, ahead of this year’s must-attend event to learn more about what’s going down on June 10 (and the 11th and 12th, too!).
“There are a number of great exhibitors to see on the floor and every company has its own needs and focus. The United Fresh show is a place where attendees have the time to really dive deep into areas that matter to them. It’s not just a show for the sales team; there are a number of other areas where attendees can see the latest technology and help their business solve issues,” Richard shared with me. “We are sending folks from multiple disciplines to give them exposure to different areas of the industry and generate ideas. With any show we attend, it is an investment, and we leverage that best when we come prepared with a mix of set agenda and open time.”
This agenda for Walmart’s team, or at least for Richard, includes the FutureTEC portion, which he wants to attend because, in his own words: “The world and retail, specifically, are changing at a tremendous pace and those who do not understand or invest in the technology will be left behind. I don’t want to be left behind!”
Matt added, “The United Fresh show offers invaluable opportunities and, most importantly, the benefit of interesting learning sessions. The learning sessions truly help our team stay informed, focused, and energized as we continue to drive the US Foods business and the produce industry forward. US Foods has enjoyed being a member of United Fresh, and it’s exciting to see so many of the ideas generated from our involvement with United Fresh come to life this year. As a Chicago-based company, our produce teams are excited to participate in the new conference enhancements that will surely provide a highly dynamic experience for all attendees.”
Both Richard’s and Matt’s agendas also include the Partner X-Change program—obviously—which is a new event debuting in Chicago at the 2019 show. Because of the high-traffic interest, United Fresh has started a waiting list for companies interested in participating, meaning don’t lose hope if you haven’t nabbed a spot yet. As two of this year’s participants, Matt and Richard are prepped and ready to go all in and seize the invaluable opportunity for face-to-face interaction with supplier partners and partners-to-be.
“For the Partner X-Change, I look forward to walking away with new and highly aligned potential supplier relationships that will continue to support our commitment to helping our customers succeed,” Matt told me. “The focused format of this year’s Partner X-Change will help drive to-the-point conversations to more quickly assess opportunities, provide deeper engagement on the show floor, and allow for stronger new business opportunities after the show.”
Richard added, “It’s always good to sit down with industry leaders in the context of an open discussion around mutual benefits and idea generation, and the Partner X-Change program offers another opportunity to do so. We would like to hear how people see their organic crops and the investments they are making or that are available to improve Surety of Supply. This year, we will also have our international markets represented, which should add additional synergies.”
In addition to the Partner X-Change program, attendees can also network with Richard, Matt, and other buyers at retailer access events like the Opening Party, the Late Night at the House of Blues, and the Retail-Foodservice Celebration.
Well, that’s enough of a sneak peek! If you want to learn more, I bet I won’t be the first or the last person to tell you to make sure you’re attending United Fresh 2019, whether you’re participating in the Partner X-Change program or not. For more information and to register, click here.
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