In fact, one of the world’s leading marketers of fresh fruits and vegetables will only have a 20- by 20-foot area that will be walled off and separated into two meeting rooms, according to Bil Goldfield, communications director for Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole.
The company won’t display product at the booth, he said.
“We are actually doing more of a meeting space this year similar to the business suite we have been doing at United Fresh for a couple of years,” Goldfield said, describing its booth as a “functional” space.
The minimalist approach comes at a time when Dole, with $4.2 billion in revenues last year in sales to more than 90 countries, is trying to rebalance its participation and support of United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association.
“We’ve been heavily PMA in terms of what we do at the show and very minimalist and functional at United,” he said. “It makes sense to be balanced then for both organizations.”
He said Dole was disappointed that a proposed merger between United Fresh and PMA failed in the 11th hour.
In July last year, the two boards ended 18 months of negotiations, and the ultimate sticking point was who would lead the combined organization.
“We just thought a strong unified body will give us a better presence in the industry, focus our lobbying activities and at some point eliminate potential conflict or confusion in the message by having a single body,” he said.
Goldfield said Dole’s spartan booth approach was not intended to “punish” the organizations.
“We are doing this to say, you know what, if we are going to have to continue to support two organizations, then maybe we just have to have a smarter way of doing it,” he said.
Dole believes a merger still makes sense, he said.
“We would love for them to go back to the table and see if they could work something out,” he said. “That would be fantastic if they reopened negotiations. That’s what the bodies of both organizations want.”
Goldfield said he hasn’t heard of any other marketers taking a similar approach at Fresh Summit. The company plans to evaluate how effective the smaller booth was.
“I don’t think we have any preconceived idea of what we are gong to do next year yet,” he said.