United Fresh Produce Association’s annual convention in Las Vegas will be marked by more than Elvis impersonators and the ringing of slot machines.
Set for April 20-23 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, the Washington, D.C.-based association’s convention theme is “Winning is Everything.”
United Fresh 2010 will feature more specialized panels and learning opportunities in addition to an April 20 keynote address by Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.
With attendance rounding out at about 4,500 people for the 2009 show, John Toner, vice president of convention and industry relations, said attendance for this year is tracking with previous shows with same level of participation anticipated for this year.
So far, about 212 companies are signed up to exhibit, with about 238 expected to take part, Toner said.
In terms of attendance, one trend United Fresh sees continuing is the growth in attendance of senior executives, Toner said.
“That started last year and we’re continuing to see that trend this year with more presidents and senior vice presidents registering,” Toner said.
Like last year, the convention will open with a party at Tao Beach, a popular Las Vegas club at the Venetian, Toner said, to give a chance for people to relax and socialize before the work starts.
Other popular events happening again this year include the trade show happy hour on April 21, awards for best new products at the show and showcases featuring new products at different exhibits.
A reception honoring women in produce is planned again for this year, Toner said, and the United Research & Education Foundation will be hosting its annual golf tournament April 20.
Technology will also play a larger role during the show, with United Fresh using everything from Twitter to iPhone-style application icons to organize the show floor and help companies find information relevant to their core business.
Ray Gilmer, United Fresh vice president of communications, said the organization will be making more announcements closer to the show about its technological plans and how attendees can benefit from participating.
“These applications are a very natural way (to communicate). If you have a smart phone you can click on something and get customized schedules throughout show,” Gilmer said.
United Fresh also plans to recognize an array of industry players:
* Person of the Year Award sponsored by The Packer;
* The Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award, honoring the use of fresh produce by chefs and their companies;
* Women in Produce honoree; and
* the Retail Produce Manager Awards, which honor produce managers from around the country for their innovation and increase in produce sales.