Packer Preview - West Coast Expo 2018
West Coast Expo preview video ( The Packer staff )

The Packer expects its 4th annual West Coast Produce Expo to be the biggest and best. 

The event returns to the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa in the Palm Springs, Calif., area, May 11-12, and it offers its unique mix of high-level business and networking in a world class setting.

The Packer’s Publisher Shannon Shuman said he’s proud to offer an event in which exhibitors and attendees find so much value.

“The mix of business and pleasure is the key to the success of the West Coast Expo,” he said.  

“When people sacrifice their weekends for work, there should be some down time… and the work should be casual. The feedback from the event has been exceptional for these reasons, and attendees can expect those values to be embraced throughout the weekend.”

This year’s West Coast Produce Expo opens on Friday, May 11, with optional activities, the annual golf tournament at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Golf Club, or the Farm Field Tour, which will visit Coachella Valley produce companies, Prime Time International and Double Date Packing in Coachella; North Shore Sales and Marketing in Thermal; and Richard Bagdasarian in Mecca.

The afternoon offers downtime and exhibitor move-in time, followed by the opening reception at 7 p.m. at the luxurious JW Marriott. 

“Don’t miss the opening reception,” Shuman said. “We have scheduled surprise entertainment that will get your heart racing and feed stomping.”

The Saturday May 12 program starts with the popular Fresh Trends Quiz Show interactive retail and consumer trends sessions, hosted by Produce Retailer Editor Pamela Riemenschneider. 

And this year’s Quiz Show features a panel of retailers: Paul Kneeland of Gelson’s Markets in Encino, Calif., Caitlin Tierney, director of produce at 99 Cents Only; and Mike Kamphaus, president of Peirone Produce, the Spokane, Wash.-based retail supplier.

Following that will be business and leadership speaker Dave Mitchell, and then keynote speaker Herm Edwards, the Arizona State University head football coach, who is also well-known for his playing and coaching in the National Football League and analysis work on ESPN.

The event concludes with the 5-hour expo, featuring about 200 exhibitors and more than 1,000 attendees, including hundreds of buyers from retail and foodservice groups from Western states.

Shuman said The Packer has been a respected brand for 125 years, mainly in media, but hosting events provides a new value to the fresh produce industry.

“As the media world fragments into multiple different channels, the opportunity to have face-to-face interaction is all that much more critical,” he said. 

“The Packer extended its business into the trade show space in order to provide our long-standing partners with an opportunity to have meaningful face-to-face interactions.”

Shuman said The Packer’s leadership has learned what attendees are looking for in a regional event, and this year’s West Coast Expo reflects that.

“The Packer has aspired to produce the most credible, polished, and most respected media products in the industry,” he said. 

“The West Coast Produce Expo has been no exception with an emphasis on high quality.  Now in its 4th year, the West Coast Produce Expo has nearly tripled in size – all while maintaining the highest quality standards.”