Regional show's focus offers more intimate setting

06/08/2012 11:32:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Exhibitors at The Packer’s upcoming Midwest Produce Conference & Expo look forward to meeting with customers (and potential customers) in a more intimate, relaxed environment.

Midwest Produce, slated for Aug. 13-15 in downtown Chicago, is a regional trade show on the order of shows put on by the Southeast Produce Council, the New England Produce Council and, most recently, the New York Produce Show and Conference.

Midwest Produce will include a 5-hour exposition; programs on consumer trends, local Midwest sourcing; networking receptions; retail and terminal market tours; and a golf outing.

Publisher Shannon Shuman said the exhibit space is sold out at 150, and registered attendance is rising rapidly.

“We may have more than 1,000 industry professionals on hand, but we don’t want to lose the feel of a regional event focused on marketing fruits and vegetables in the Midwest.”

Selah, Wash.-based Rainier Fruit Co., which is scheduled to be an exhibitor at Midwest Produce, also has exhibited at the New York and New England shows. Contacts made there have generated new leads that generated new business for Rainier, said Suzanne Wolter, marketing director.

One advantage of the regional shows vs. larger industry shows, Wolter said, is the chance to meet with buyers who don’t attend the big shows like the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit.

Also, the quality of those meetings can be much better.

“It’s much more relaxing compared to the really large shows,” Wolter said. “People take the time to talk with you for a little while, and there aren’t as many demands on your time.”

As for Midwest Produce in particular, Wolter is hoping to meet buyers from independent chains in the Upper Midwest who don’t make the trek to Fresh Summit and the United Fresh Expo.

With the devastating freeze in Michigan, and a big crop expected out of Washington, Rainier could find a willing audience in Chicago for Washington apples, Wolter said.

Neil Galone, vice president of sales and marketing for Orange Cove, Calif.-based Booth Ranches LLC, another Midwest Produce exhibitor, began attending the New England, Southeast and New York regional shows about two years ago.

Fresh Summit remains the most important annual show in the industry, Galone said, but the regional shows definitely have their advantages.

“Fresh Summit is so big, it’s hard to accomplish any business,” he said. “And we found that in the more intimate setting, we, as a medium-sized company, don’t get overshadowed.”


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