“We have 1,650 restaurants and growing,” Harris said. “We’re in 50 states and four countries. Our distribution is fragmented. That’s why traceability is important to us. We want to know where everything’s coming from.”
A session also covered how food bloggers are influencing produce consumers.
On March 2, two motor coaches took supermarket and foodservice buying executives to central Florida growing and importing operations.
At Plant City-based Wish Farms’ Duette growing operation, Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer, described growing, harvesting and distribution operations.
“We have had some real weather challenges this season,” he said. “This season has been one of the worst we have ever gone through.”
At the Port Manatee importing operations of Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., tour participants saw how Del Monte handles its banana and tropical imports in its second largest U.S. port.
Delivering the conference’s March 3 keynote speech, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam described some of the problems Florida and southeastern grower-shippers endure.
“Poorly thought-out labor regulations threaten the viability of U.S. agriculture,” he said. “Water and labor issues, these are typically regional issues, not just Florida issues. These issues the industry is struggling with will chart the course for the future of the produce industry.”
The council welcomed participants through its golden age of Hollywood-themed gala opening party at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina the evening of March 2.
During the March 3 trade show, 240 exhibitors, 40 more than last year, displayed their products which this year included an additional hour of exhibition.
Note on correction: This story originally incorrectly identified the people in the photo.