More than 2,600 exhibitors from 84 countries attended the annual Fruit Logistica produce industry trade show Feb. 5-7 in Berlin.
This year’s show included about 62,000 attendees from 141 countries, and about 90% of exhibitors and 80% of visitors came from outside Germany, according to a Fruit Logistica news release.
“The 2014 Fruit Logistica is the most comprehensive and significant event the international fresh produce industry has ever seen,” Christian Göke, chief executive officer of Messe Berlin, the show’s organizer, said in the release.
Four of those 62,000 attendees came from Southern Produce Distributors Inc., Faison, N.C., which exhibited in the New Orleans-based Southern United States Trade Association booth, said Sterling Cook, Southern’s chief financial officer.
“It was a great show,” Cook said. “We got to see a lot customers. We have customers throughout Europe, and it’s nice to have them in one location and put faces to names.”
One highlight for Cook was meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Germany, John Emerson, who was very supportive of efforts by U.S. sweet potato growers to expand export opportunities in the United Kingdom and Europe.
Demand for sweet potatoes continues to grow in Europe, and the industry is a long way from the days when salesmen like Southern’s Bobby Daughtry showed up on the continent with sweet potatoes in briefcases, Cook said.
“It’s nice to see that what we’ve done over the past 15 years has amounted to something,” he said.
One thing that came out of Fruit Logistica 2014 for the Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest was a decision to likely co-locate at next year’s show with the Washington Apple Commission, said Kevin Moffitt, the bureau’s president and chief executive officer.
“We’ve been sharing with other commodity groups, but it makes sense to work with shippers who are here together,” Moffitt said.
Many European importers buy their pears and apples from the same U.S. shippers, Moffitt said.
New this year at Fruit Logistica was the Future Lab, a series of half-hour presentations on cutting-edge issues with titles including “Fighting Black Sigatoka — the end of Cavendish?”; “PIQA pears — A Whole New Fruit”; “Quantum Leap in Lettuce Breeding”; “Customized Fruit — To Your Health”; and “Optimizing the Intensive Greenhouse Production of Vegetables.”
Argentina served as the official partner country of Fruit Logistica 2014. Europe is Argentina’s top trading partner — 32% of the country’s apples, grapes, pears, citrus, stone fruit, berries and other fruits and vegetables are exported to the continent.