The inaugural Viva Fresh Conference and Expo in Austin, Texas, has gained The Packer as a main sponsor.

Through marketing and advertising both in print and online, The Packer will help promote the March 26-28, 2015, Viva Fresh Expo.

The regional show, which will have an international flavor, is being organized by the Mission-based Texas International Produce Association.

“The Southwest U.S., from Texas to Arizona, and Mexico have a great story to tell when it comes to the substantial growth of our fresh produce sector,” Bret Erickson, association president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “The Packer provides a great platform to help us share that story with the rest of the industry.”

The conference will offer educational sessions on a variety of topics, including trade issues, retail trends and grower issues. At the same time, buyers from throughout North American will be able to network with grower-shippers from the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

The expo will offer a “Gateway to the Americas” to showcase produce grown in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico. Along with it will be a focus on health benefits, styles and flavors of Southwestern- and Mexico-grown produce.

“Regional expos are growing in popularity because they offer more networking opportunities in an affordable and intimate setting,” Shannon Shuman, publisher of The Packer, said in the release. “We’re excited to be a part of this event from the beginning because of its unique focus on education and international trade with Mexico.”

Along with the sponsorship, the association launched the Viva Fresh website, www.vivafreshexpo.com. The online venue provides a wide range of information, including a schedule of events, exhibitor and attendee registration, sponsorship opportunities, and a summary of educational workshops.