See related content, From the show floor: New England Produce Council expo booths.
BOSTON — Retail buyers walked the floors meeting with grower-shippers and distributors at this year’s New England Produce Council Produce and Floral Expo.
click image to zoomDoug OhlemeierDaryl Johnston (left), vice president of sales for Southern Specialties Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla., talks with Dominic Viglione, a produce buyer with BJ’s Wholesale Club, Westborough, Mass., and Tracey Monahan, a Southern Specialties’ key account manager, at the New England Produce Council’s April 3 Produce and Floral Expo.In its 14th year, the April 2-3 event brought retailers from throughout the East Coast to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
“This show is unbelievable,” said exhibitor Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Southern Specialties Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla. “We had a couple of people we wanted to see and some we wanted to follow-up with, including current and future customers.”
Many exhibitors said this year’s show a better chance to meet with buyers than last year’s, with exhibitor booths in separate expo areas at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
“We are glad to be back to this side of Boston,” said Bo Lynch, director of sales for Shapiro Produce Inc., Everett. “This is the place you want to be. South Boston is alive.”
Council president Robert McGowan, partner with Wellesley-based Northeast Produce Sales LLC, said the April 3 expo attracted retailers from North Carolina to upstate New York and Maine.
“We have a lot of attendees and great support from the trade,” he said. “We are seeing everyone from produce managers up to vice presidents of perishables from a lot of the major chains and wholesalers throughout the region.”
During the April 3 breakfast, McGowan said the council continues to grow and cited its members’ dedication to promoting consumption by financially supporting the United Fresh Produce Association Foundation’s salad bars in schools effort.
Through United Fresh’s work with the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, the council in 2012 contributed a salad bar to East Boston High School and plans to donate another one to a Berlin, Conn., school this spring, he said.
Keynote speaker Tim Wakefield, a retired Boston Red Sox player considered one of baseball’s greatest knuckleball pitchers, told attendees hard work and determination remain keys to success.
click image to zoomDoug OhlemeierKevin Barry (left), director of produce and floral for Big Y Foods Inc., Springfield, Mass., talks with Steve Trede, Richmond, Indiana-based director or category management for Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, Calif., at the New England Produce Council’s April 3 Produce and Floral Expo.“The incidence of success in sports is the same as in business,” he said. “It takes hard work. Everyone on a team is important, no matter how big or small.”
Council executive director Laura Sullivan said attendance was similar to recent years, with about 700 buyers, distributors and others participating.
The “County Fair”-themed expo featured more than 200 exhibitors, also similar to previous years, she said.
In the show’s booth contests, Bozzuto’s Inc., Chesire, Conn., won first place in the best single booth division with T. Marzetti Co., Columbus, Ohio, taking honorable mention.
In the multiple booths division, Shapiro Produce and Sunshine Bouquet, Dayton, N.J., tied for first place.