The United Fresh Produce Association and the Food Marketing Institute will co-locate trade shows in Chicago for three years, beginning in 2014.

The 2014 event, now open for registration, is June 10-13 and includes United Fresh 2014 and FMI Connect. The shows in 2015 and 2016 will also be in June, with the 2015 show from June 9-11 and the 2016 show set for June 21-23.

“We are really, really pleased about the partnership with United,” Leslie Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of FMI, said in a teleconference Sept. 27 announcing the news. “This brings a vine-ripe vibrancy and fresh-picked energy to FMI’s Connect focus on the total store experience.”

Sarasin said collaboration provides the opportunity to focus on retail issues.

Research shows consumers are seeking knowledge about fresh produce, and Sarasin said retailers view perishables as a major part of their competitive strategy. The partnership with United Fresh will serve FMI members well as they put those strategies in place, she said.

For United Fresh members, the partnership offers the opportunity for the fresh produce industry connect with top retail executives, said Tom Stenzel, president of the Washington, D.C.-based association.

“Having not only the physical location together, but also the intellectual co-location is really going to make a difference for both of our members,” he said in the teleconference.

Sarasin said the shows provide a forum to find solutions to growing basket size, increasing customer trips, improving margin and boosting market share.

The United Fresh board of directors see an opportunity with the partnership to build a top-to-top management focus for produce suppliers and customers, Ron Midyett, United Fresh chairman and president of Apio Inc., Guadalupe, Calif., said in a news release.

“Together, we can bring fresh food solutions and innovations to our customers that can significantly grow the total business,” he said in the release.

Noting that United Fresh was co-located with FMI show for three years in Chicago in the early 2000s and again in 2011 in Dallas, Stenzel said past history points to an enhanced number of produce exhibitors in the show, in addition to continued presence of exhibitors of supply chain technology.

“What we really anticipate for the next three years in Chicago is creating a platform for both,” he said.

The show features a Fresh Marketplace Expo and a Fresh Tech Expo, with the Fresh Tech Expo expected to have a “stand-alone” feel.

The configuration of the shows will be more integrated than in the past, where FMI booths and United Fresh were adjacent but separate.

“You will have a focus on fresh and perishable and not only where the United booths are,” Sarasin said.

Stenzel said United Fresh is not changing budget projections for the co-located show compared with its traditional show.

“What we want to focus on is the value to the attendees, value to the exhibitors,” he said. “If we can create additional value to our industries, it should grow,” he said.