Packer Insight - United Fresh 2018 Preview
FreshMkt and FreshTec are two of the elements of the upcoming show. ( File Photo )

The United Fresh Produce Association’s annual expo returns for year two of its rebrand, with FreshTec and FreshMkt adding another location partner in the SmartFood Expo.

The event is scheduled for June 25-27 in Chicago. Other expo partners are the International Floriculture Expo and the Global Cold Chain Expo.

“We’re tackling a lot this year,” said United Fresh vice president of convention and industry relations John Toner. “It’s very dynamic.”

Susan Reimer-Sifford, outgoing chairwoman of United Fresh and vice president and general manager for CC Kitchens at Castellini Group of Cos., Cincinnati, said the association’s leadership looked at the conference in a different way.

“Everyone’s budget is getting tougher, so you have to choose (what events you’ll attend),” she said. “There’s something for everyone in this show.”

This year’s event starts at noon on June 25 with five hours of lunch and conferences for FreshTec, FreshMkt, SmartFood and Global Cold Chain concentrations.

Toner said each of the tracks feature dynamic and respected speakers, such as Emanuel Lazopoulos, senior vice president of North American sales, marketing and product management for Del Monte Fresh Produce NA, Miami, at FreshMkt, and David Krause, president of Delano, Calif.-based Wonderful Citrus, for FreshTec.

All five participants have expo hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 26-27 at the South Hall in Chicago’s McCormick Place.

“The cornerstone is the FreshMkt with 165 exhibitors,” Toner said.

He also said 15 buying groups have business suites, including Sam’s Club, Kroger, Amazon Fresh, Costco and U.S. Foods.

Toner said United Fresh expects similar attendance to last year’s 7,500 people for all five partners.

“It’s such a unique opportunity because it’s for the entire industry, growers, transportation, retailers, foodservice — there’s something for everyone,” said incoming chairwoman Cindy Jewell, vice president of marketing for Watsonville-based California Giant Berry Farms.

This year will also feature some traditional items at the event, including:

  • June 25, after the United FreshMkt, FreshTec, Cold Chain and SmartFood conferences, attendees gather for the post-conference happy hour at McCormick Place before heading to the annual opening party at Chicago’s Field Museum.
  • June 26, the United Fresh Breakfast General Session features keynote speaker Bob Sutton, Stanford professor and author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling book “The No Asshole Rule — Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.”
  • June 26, The Packer presents its annual Produce Man or Woman of the Year Award.
  • June 26, the School Foodservice Forum occurs as dozens of Top School Foodservice Directors gather in to explore fresh solutions for feeding schoolchildren.
  • June 26, the annual Reception Honoring Women in Produce will honor Jewell.
  • June 27, the United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Celebration Breakfast to honor 25 retail produce managers and recognize eight leading chefs for their excellence in advancing the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables through in-store program, community engagements and menu development.

Toner said moving this from the last day’s evening to breakfast should increase its attendance significantly.

Details about the event are available at