This year"s New York Produce Show, scheduled for Dec. 10-12, will focus on "Celebrating Fresh" as it meets for its fourth year.

The show"s activities are scheduled for the New York Hilton Midtown and the Pier 94 convention center.

Attendance at the show, which is co-sponsored by the Short Hills, N.J.-based Eastern Produce Council, is again expected to be high and convention organizers reported high preregistrations.

In late October, organizers said registrations were running 15% higher than the same time last year.

Last year"s show attracted around 3,000 participants and even more people are expected to pack this year"s show, said John McAleavey, the council"s executive director.

McAleavey said many retailers and other buyers he visited with at the Oct. 18-20 Produce Marketing Association"s Fresh Summit 2013 expo in New Orleans inquired about the New York show.

He said the day after he returned home, he took calls from four retailers wanting to register.

"This show has become one of the largest produce shows in North America," McAleavey said. "It"s very popular, and we are getting people from all over the country and the world participating. Each year it seems to get bigger."

This year, more than 400 companies are expected to exhibit their wares.

The show attracted 400 last year and 300 in 2011.

Retail and foodservice buyer participation is also strong.

Council president Paul Kneeland, vice president of produce and floral, seafood and meat for Kings Super Markets LLC, Parsippany, N.J., said retail and foodservice buyers account for about 30% or more of the show"s participants.

"The penetration of buyers, the ones that attend our show, is high," he said. "That percentage is high for a show. A lot of it"s due to the area and the strength of the Hunts Point and the Philadelphia markets, which attracts the buyers.

"That really tells you the value of the show. We"re growing and expanding and seeing more and more interest from exhibitors."

A change for this year"s show involves returning the hotel to the New York Hilton Midtown at 1335 Avenue of the Americas.

The consolidation from the two hotels at last year"s show to a single hotel should be of logistical benefit to attendees, Kneeland said.

The show begins Dec. 10 with an opening cocktail reception at the New York Hilton Midtown.

Earlier in the day, a pre-show event, a Global Trade Symposium, is scheduled.

The session covers produce importing and exporting in "A View from America"s Gateway to the World."

All of the pre- and post-expo festivities and sessions are scheduled for the hotel for Dec. 10 and Dec. 12.

On Dec. 11, the keynote breakfast and retail panel, chef demonstrations and educational micro-sessions are scheduled to coincide with the expo at the Pier 94 convention venue on 54th Street and West Side Highway.

Industry tours and a foodservice forum are scheduled for Dec. 12.

The Ideation foodservice forum plans to help operators better run their businesses, Kneeland said.

"One of the things we are challenged with in the industry is that the focus used to always be on the retail buyer," Kneeland said.

"This show brings in foodservice buyers. This just enhances the show and strategically, from the council"s standpoint, we"ve made a decision to start focusing a lot more attention on the foodservice buyers as they"re buying from the same vendors as the retail buyers. We"re offering the knowledge they need to help run their businesses."

Additionally, lingering effects from Hurricane Sandy, which struck the Northeast Oct. 22-31, 2012, affected the convention site during last year"s show.

At that show, the pier wasn"t at full power and the convention site closed the parking garage, which couldn"t run its elevators.

A couple of months after that storm"s anniversary, Kneeland said he doesn"t expect similar issues.

"There"s been a lot of talk around the area about Sandy," he said. "Ellis Island just opened the other day."

Produce Business magazine also sponsors the show.