Switching seasons and refining its focus, the Texas International Produce Association has reinvented its annual trade show.

The inaugural Viva Fresh Conference and Expo is set for March 26-28 next spring in Austin. Formerly known as the Texas Produce Convention, the association’s annual event will highlight the “Gateway to the Americas,” according to a news release.

Bret Erickson, president and CEO of the association, said in the release the revised show will showcase fresh produce from U.S. states in the Southwest and Mexico.

“Connecting buyers with Southwestern U.S. and Mexican producers is a key objective of Viva Fresh,” Erickson said in the release. “The conference committees will be working directly with retailers and foodservice companies, who are invited to attend for free, to ensure greater participation.”

The association’s trade show had traditionally been scheduled in August. The switch to a March event will allow for better seasonal promotion of products grown in the region, said Heidi McIntyre, a spokeswoman for the association.

The March event will mark the first time the association’s show has included retail and foodservice companies, McIntyre said. The inclusion of produce companies from other Southwestern states and Mexico is also new and more in line with the association’s international focus, she said.

Association chairman Dante Galeazzi of Crescent Fruit & Vegetable is also expo committee chairman for the association. He said in the release that the event will include presentations about trade regulations specific to the Southwest U.S.

“We believe that the topics and opportunities we will provide at Viva Fresh as it relates to the growth and expansion of produce from Mexico, transportation issues and upcoming trade regulations specifically for this region will make this conference unique to other trade shows and create the international draw that is missing from the ‘regional’ shows available today,” Galeazzi said in the release.

Virtual field tours of produce operations in Texas and Mexico are among the presentations on the agenda for the new event. Also scheduled are a symposium with supermarket dieticians and chef-inspired receptions, according to the release.

Complete details on the new event will be provided on a new website dedicated to the Viva Fresh Expo. The site is expected to launch in August with registration, exhibitor and sponsorship details anticipated then.