Southern Exposure promises to be bigger, better

02/18/2013 04:07:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

More people are registering to attend this year’s Southern Exposure retail and foodservice conference and exposition.

Scheduled for Feb. 28 to March 2, the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure 2013 also plans some changes as it returns to Orlando, Fla.

Show organizers say they expect more supermarket and foodservice buyers to attend.

Attendees will tour area growing-shipping operations, walk the trade show floor, pack the educational sessions and fill the convention parties at the Caribe Royal Resort and Conference Center in Orlando.

Back to the ’80s is the theme of this year’s show.

Show chairman Mark Daniels, senior buyer and general manager for the Savannah, Ga., division of Norfolk, Va.-based Military Produce Group, promises a strong show to kick off Southeast Produce Council’s second decade.

“It’s going to be a great celebration for us, since it’s our 10th anniversary,” he said. “We have a lot of exciting things planned, from the receptions to the dynamic speakers, tours and workshops. There are a lot of people involved with the show that have the passion to make this a top-caliber show.”

Terry Vorhees, executive director of the East Ellijay, Ga.-based council, said as of early February 251 retail and foodservice attendees (which include buyers, vice presidents of produce and produce directors) had registered for the show.

Up to 305 buyers participated last year, more than the 280 in 2011, and Vorhees said he expects this year’s event to attract as many.

The March 2 expo features 238 exhibitors — similar to the 240 who exhibited last year.

In all, Vorhees said he expects around 1,600 industry people to visit Orlando, about the same as the number that trekked to the Tampa, Fla., show in 2012.

As of early February, he said the council had received 1,449 registrations.

Pre-show interest is high for the other activities as well.

Vorhees said a record number of attendees are expected for the March 2 keynote luncheon address by legendary college football coach Lou Holtz.

The Back to the ’80s gala opening party on March 1 has 1,200 signed up, and the field tours scheduled for earlier in the day that take busloads of buyers to north Florida potato and cabbage fields and an Orlando-area garlic plant maintain a waiting list.

More than 320 have signed up to attend a March 2 session on labor, while 200 are planning to attend a session on effective packaging design, record numbers for both sessions.


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