DALLAS — Amid rampant speculation about merger talks with the Produce Marketing Association, the United Fresh 2012 expo didn’t have the feel of a trade show that would soon go away.
With a date set next for May 14-16 in San Diego, confidence in the United Fresh expo was strong.
The show received rave reviews for foot traffic and buyer presence, and the star power of former first lady Laura Bush also added to the Lone Star State experience.
“People who have participated in the show from our organization have had a good show and had ample people to talk to,” said John McClung, president of the Texas Produce Association.
John Cameron, division manager for NatureSweet Ltd., San Antonio, Texas, said the show had a regional feel, with a strong retailer presence.
“We get a really good intimate engagement with retailers here at this show and it is very comfortable for them to come out,” Cameron said. “It works for all of us.”
“We have seen good traffic, good quality discussions, a diverse group of people here,” said David Krause, chairman-elect for Paramount Citrus, Delano, Calif. “We have been very pleased with the show overall.”
Krause said all major buyers were represented at the United Fresh show, in part because of the draw with the co-located FMI show.
A.J. Martinich, director of sales for NatureSeal Inc., Westport, Conn., said foot traffic at the show was exceptionally better than last year’s show.
“We saw more customers in one day than we saw in three days last year,” he said.
Jamey Higham, vice president of business development and foodservice for Potandon Produce LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho, said he was pleasantly surprised with the traffic he had seen at the show.
“It has been a good mixture of foodservice and retail customers and it seems like it has been worthwhile,” he said.
Ray Gilmer, spokesman for United Fresh, said 4,500 attended the 2012 show, and 75% were decision makers. About 4,000 attended the 2011 show in New Orleans.