( Photo courtesy United Fresh )

As the first large virtual produce trade show, United Fresh LIVE! will be a groundbreaking event for attendees and exhibitors.

The COVID-19 pandemic made large-scale industry events impossible, and the United Fresh Produce Association’s decision to invest in the June 15-19 digital event has been met with support from exhibitors.

Manuel Michel, executive director of the National Mango Board, said the organization is participating as an exhibitor in United Fresh LIVE! and looking to focus and maximize its message at the show.

“One of the things you look forward to is meeting people in person and having those conversations, but right now that is (not) possible,” he said. “United Fresh has figured out a way to do a virtual conference and convention.”

Reduced travel and hotel expenses are an obvious advantage to a virtual show, but many other elements are involved.

How a show delivers

A question posed to the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group in mid-May asked, “What would make a virtual industry expo a successful show for attendees or exhibitors?”

The responses included several themes:

  • Keep it concise, interesting and fast-paced; 
  • Include an opportunity to chat “face-to-face” with prospective customers via Zoom or some kind of video conferencing;
  • A good attendee list to make contacts after the show;
  • An ability to pre-market the product to the attendee list; 
  • Flexibility in virtual booth design;
  • Useful agenda; and
  • Easy to use navigation software to transition between the vendor portal and educational sessions.

United Fresh delivers

Coming together as an industry has never been more important, and John Toner, vice president of convention and industry collaboration for United Fresh, said in early May that United Fresh LIVE! will deliver a platform to share knowledge, build best practices and more.

“The virtual platform that we’re going down this path with is actually going to be really good,” he said. 

Attendance will be open to anyone from anywhere.

Workshops at United Fresh LIVE! will be a shared experience more so than even a live experience, Toner said.

“You’re going to be able to chat with 10-15 people in the room and get real-time reaction,” he said. 

Trusted speakers and panelists will deliver value to attendees, he said.

The event will have global reach and will allow buyers to find new connections with new suppliers. 

“We are pretty excited about what we are building for June 15,” Toner said. 

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