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Join your floral friends and colleagues at IFE in Chicago

The International Floriculture Expo will meet June 25-27 at McCormick Place in Chicago. Attendees will experience the latest trends in floral retail, hear from thought-leaders in the floral and produce industries, have the opportunity to build relationships with every segment of the supply chain, network with more than 1,500 floral professionals, and source from over 225 vendors from across the globe. Below are some of the highlights for this year’s event.

IFE always has a strong international presence, and this year there is a renewed focus on Canadian retailers and suppliers. We have more than 20 Canadian suppliers exhibiting and retail buyers from Sobeys and Longos, as well as additional international presence from retailers like Aldi.

Ken-SchmidtKen Schmidt, former director of communications strategy at Harley Davidson, will deliver the keynote address at IFE. We are excited to welcome nearly 30 first-time exhibitors to the show, ranging from fresh-cut floral to candles and greeting cards, including Hallmark Cards. Greeting cards sales have been expanding in many supermarket floral departments, so we’re proud to offer a selection for the floral category buyers at IFE. Finding new products and opportunities for department growth is critical to IFE’s mission to make the event a must-attend, yearly occurrence for anyone who purchases for the floral category.

Once again IFE is hosting “Floral Flash Speed Networking” meetings, which is a free program that aims to introduce exhibitors to as many buyers as possible before the show floor opens on Tuesday morning.

And new this year, we are adding a Suppliers Roundtable Forum on Wednesday morning — open to all attendees — to discuss pressing issues, including transportation and labor. This will be presented in collaboration with the Global Cold Chain Alliance.

For education, IFE boasts six educational sessions including the keynote address by Ken Schmidt, former director of communications strategy at Harley Davidson. 

This keynote goes outside the box — and the floral industry — to learn how businesses of any size and scope can position themselves to ignite customer demand, maximize sales growth and dominate their marketplace. Schmidt will pave the road for attendees to create a passionately vocal, fanatically loyal customer base. 

Additional sessions will include “Statistics of Global Floral Retail;” burton + BURTON’s “Discovering the Science of Experiential Product and Merchandising Strategies;” a latest-in-technology session; and a human resource session focused on attracting, motivating, and retaining employees with an HR expert; as well as insight from Dione Baird, floral sales manager at Albertsons southern division in Dallas/Fort Worth, and Cheryl Bruno, senior category manager/floral at Schnuck Markets in St. Louis, MO. 

Additional educational programming is in the form of Flower Field Chats on the show floor, which consist of brief 30-minute trend analysis and design demonstrations.

IFE will continue to host stand-by favorite events including Flower Naming, Merchandising Awards of Excellence, Toast to the Industry Reception, Innovation Battlefield, New Product Competition and Iron Designer Competition.

For more information, go to www.floriexpo.com.

Lora Burns is marketing & conference manager for the International Floriculture Expo. She can be contacted at Lburns@divcom.com.