See related content: From the show floor: FPFC Northern California Expo.
PLEASANTON, Calif. — A purely trade show format appears to be the recipe for success as booth space at the Fresh Produce and Floral Council’s Northern California’s Expo, April 10, sold out once again.
“We’re pretty much at maximum space,” said Carissa Mace, executive director. “A few years ago, we added a row of booths. To be able to still have space for registration and lunch, we’re pretty much maxed out for that hall.”
Expanding into an adjoining hall would break up the flow of the expo, something that could be considered in the future should demand warrant it.
“But right now, we’re pretty comfortable where we’re at,” Mace said.
About 160 booths have been sold, and more than 190 companies are expected to display produce or floral offerings.
As in the past, the breakdown is about 60% produce and 40% floral, Mace said.
Interest in regional trade shows, whether the FPFC’s or other groups’ appears to be increasing, she said.
“I think a lot of companies find ours, as well as others, make good economic sense,” she said. “You can do it in one day, and set-up is very easy. There’s a lot of expense that goes into the major shows. The shows that are one day just seem to be what the companies are wanting these days.”
In addition to its more “laid-back” atmosphere, Mace said regional shows like the Northern California event allow those with booths to spend a bit more time with attendees.
Matt Landi, produce director for Santa Cruz-based New Leaf Community Markets, said he came because of the expo’s proximity near a new store in Pleasanton the firm plans to open in a few weeks.
“And the connections we’ve made — everything from shelves to bulk goods,” said Landi, who also is in charge of the bulk department.
Michael Schutt, produce buyer with Raley’s Supermarkets, Sacramento, said regional shows have a different flavor than large, national shows.
“It’s really great because it’s local, and not just corporate level people but store-level people, so it’s really a good show to bring store directors to that wouldn’t be able to go to the bigger shows,” he said.
The expo, in its seventh year, is patterned after the council’s successful event in Southern California, which is on July 16.
One of the main differences is the Northern FPFC show does not feature a luncheon speaker or education sessions, something the Southern California event does.
Organizers of the Northern California event initially tried including those features, but it didn’t seem to work, Mace said.
One reason may be the large geographic area from which the Northern California event draws. Attendees seem to come in spurts throughout the day, which makes an organized breakfast or lunch event or educational sessions more difficult, she said.
“We like to say, ‘The education at the show is the show floor,’” Mace said.
In addition to the expo, the planning committee has a handful of other Northern California events scheduled throughout the year.
They include two membership lunches, Feb. 21 and Sept. 12; a golf tournament in Livermore on May 3; and a bocce ball fun night, Aug. 9.