See related content: From the show floor: FPFC Northern Calif. booth briefs
PLEASANTON, Calif. — Once again, the La Mirada, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council’s Northern California Expo was a sellout.
The eighth-annual show at the Alameda County Fairgrounds April 9 featured 158 booths where representatives from more than 200 companies unveiled new products and touted existing ones for produce and floral representatives from grocery chains like Sacramento-based Raley’s Supermarkets and Pleasanton-based Safeway Inc., said Carissa Mace, council president.
About 600 representatives from retail produce and floral departments came out for this year’s show. About 60% were from the produce side, and 40% were from floral.
Retailers found the expo worthwhile.
“We’re always looking for new, innovative items and to reconnect with all our vendor partners,” said Larry Tucker, produce buyer for Raley’s.
Exhibitors also said they gained a lot from the expo.
“This is great exposure to be able to meet with the buyers in a one-on-one situation,” said Don Krekorain, Green Giant Fresh national accountmanager for Growers Express LLC and Growers Marketing LLC, Salinas, Calif.
“The office environment is nice, but when you get a chance to interface with (buyers) and show them a broad spectrum of products and get their feedback, it’s great,” he said.
“We also get feedback on our competition,” he added. “It’s a very competitive arena.”
Jennifer Pelayo, chairman of the council’s Northern California Committee and business development manager for Advantage Sales & Marketing in Pleasanton, cited “multiple networking opportunities” as one advantage of attending the expo, along with the opportunity to “see all the new products and old friends — and new friends.”
The Northern California Expo is patterned after the council’s long-running Southern California version, but there are some differences.
Because of the geography of the region and the way the event has evolved, the Southern California Expo, held at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim in July, attracts more store-level personnel, Mace said.
“It’s mainly management and buyers who come to the Northern California show,” she said, though some store-level personnel also show up.
On the exhibitor side, some companies exhibit at one show or the other, depending on their market.
“Even though it’s one state, it’s really is two different marketplaces,” Mace said.
However, she added, “There’s a lot of crossover that do both shows.”
The expo may be over, but there still are a number of FPFC events scheduled for Northern California this year.
In May, the council will host its annual Northern California golf tournament at a new location — the Callippe Preserve Golf Course in Pleasanton.
The annual bocce ball event is planned for September, and the council’s September luncheon will feature Karen Ross, California’s secretary of agriculture. Jim Corby, director of produce for Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets, will be master of ceremonies for that event.
Mace said Pleasanton is a good place to hold the expo because of its central location.
“It’s easy for the folks from Save Mart in Modesto to get in, and Raley’s comes down the night before and plans corporate meetings around the show,” she said.