BERLIN — More than 2,500 exhibitors from 78 countries participated in the annual Fruit Logistica conference Feb. 6-8.

With an estimated 55,000 attendees, the show attracts a diverse audience.

Even with the crowd, business opportunities were plentiful, exhibitors and attendees said.

“Every year we come home with a new client or two or three,” said Kelley Precythe, salesman for Faison, N.C.-based Southern Produce Distributors Inc. “It’s great to come here and in three days see 15 or more of our key customers.”

That’s something Precythe said he couldn’t accomplish in two weeks, with a lot of expensive travel.

Berlin convention gives U.S. firms ample reason to cross AtlanticIt’s also a way to see U.S. customers in a new environment, said Matt Roberts, sales manager for Sedro-Wooley, Wash.-based CF Fresh. Roberts chatted with Raley’s director of produce Greg Corrigan on the show floor a few times.

“This show attracts the retailers who really want to see something,” Roberts said.

Corrigan, one of a handful of U.S. retailers in attendance, said this is his first time at Fruit Logistica.

“It was great to see what’s new and different,” he said.

Being a U.S. retailer in this environment also afforded Corrigan time to stop and peruse booths he normally wouldn’t have had a chance to see.

“Here I was really able to walk through and see what’s happening a little anonymously,” he said.

The show has grown over the past 15 years that the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association has been an exhibitor, said Nancy Tucker, vice president of global business development.

“It’s great to see how it has grown and changed,” Tucker said. “We feel like we provide a great meeting place for our members make global connections.”

This was the 7th time the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C. has exhibited at the show, said Jeff Oberman, vice president of trade relations.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet with members from all over the world,” Oberman said. “We’re able to serve as a resource for our members.”

This can be helping international processors finding sources for raw product in the U.S., or helping U.S. customers find global export opportunities, Oberman said.

The format of the show varies from U.S. trade shows in that more business is done on the show floor, with booths serving as meeting places for clients and potential clients.

Chelan, Wash-based Chelan Fresh has been bringing a larger booth with sizable retail displays of apples for the past three years with good results, said Tom Riggan, chief executive officer.

“This show has been great for us,” Riggan said. “We’ve found new customers over the past few years in places like Libya, Egypt, the Middle East and Russia.”