This year’s Southern Exposure educational sessions are designed to help industry leaders learn how they can better interact with their customers.

The Southeast Produce Council plans to host the Feb. 28 Southern Exposure 2014 sessions in larger meeting rooms to accommodate the expected larger number of participants, said Terry Vorhees, the East Ellijay, Ga.-based council’s executive director.

The sessions are being relocated from the Saturday morning of years past to Friday morning.

The council expectes the change to draw larger attendance, Vorhees said.



In the “Customer Connections: How to Make the Most of Your Meeting” session, participants will learn how grower-shippers and suppliers can create more effective encounters with their retail and foodservice buying customers.

Reggie Griffin, a former vice president with Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., and owner of Reggie Griffin Strategies, Hilton Head, S.C., is scheduled to moderate the session.

The workshop includes talks from Tim Graas, category manager with Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., Kansas City, Kan.; Sean McGoldrick, vice president of purchasing for Pompano Beach, Fla.-based FreshPoint South Florida; and Teri Miller, produce category manager for Food Lion LLC, Salisbury, N.C.

Council board member Harold Paivarinta, director of U.S. sales for Kingsville, Ontario-based JemD Farms and Jem-D International, proposed the idea of hosting a session on how grower-shippers can make the most of their time with their customers, Vorhees said.

“A lot of people exhibiting will call on Teri, Sean and Tim,” Vorhees said.

“They tell us this is what we really like to see when you come in and talk with us.”


Digital focus

Another session, “How Digital is Affecting Produce Shopping Trends,” will provide information on how produce companies can lead in the new digital age where millennials and an increasingly ethnically diverse population are gaining ground.

The session is designed to offer detailed information on social media so attendees can better market their products in today’s fast-changing virtual environment, Vorhees said.


Opening gala

Also on Feb. 28, after a sponsors invitation-only VIP reception scheduled for 6 p.m., the council’s big gala opening party is set to begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets are required to participate in the party, which features The Wild Party Band, an eight-piece ensemble that plans to make the dance floor jump by performing hit songs from the 1960s through the 1990s as a tribute to music from those decades, Vorhees said.

Continuing the show’s circus theme, the ballroom floor at the opening reception plans to feature several stages including the center stage or “ring” where the band will play, he said.

Other stages feature circus performers including aerialists, sword swallowers and fire eaters, Vorhees said.

The expo will also feature a refreshment area designed like a circus midway offering vendors that provide circus foods as well as carnival games, he said.