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United Fresh 2017: four expos, three days, one giant success

CHICAGO — United Fresh 2017 was held June 13-15 in the West Hall at McCormick Place Convention Center, here. Attendees were able to explore four shows in one place: the inaugural United FreshTEC and United FreshMKT expos, the Global Cold Chain Expo and the International Floriculture Expo.unitec

The United Fresh opening party, which took place at the Shedd Aquarium, was held Tuesday, June 13. This year it had some unusual guests, including beluga whales and sea lions. Hundreds of industry members gathered to catch up with friends and peers while making new connections. The  event came at the tail end of a busy day.

United’s inaugural FreshTEC and FreshMKT conferences started at noon on June 13. Following keynote speakers Taylor Farms Chief Executive Officer Bruce Taylor (FreshTEC) and Ready Pac Foods Inc. CEO Tony Sarsam (FreshMKT), each conference held educational sessions that concluded with industry leaders being honored.

Peter Quiring, owner and chief executive officer of NatureFresh Farms, received the FreshTEC Award for outstanding technical achievements, and Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Stemilt Growers, received the FreshMKT Award for outstanding marketing achievements.

DSC 2601Tom Stenzel, president and chief executive officer of United Fresh, flanked by IFCO's Wolfgang Orgeldinger and Daniel Walsh at the June 13 opening party.  During the opening general session of the June 14 United FreshMKT, United FreshTEC, International Floriculture Expo and Global Cold Chain Expo, show organizers announced a fifth expo will be co-located with the partners in June 2018.

The new SmartFood Expo is being launched to focus on the category of healthy foods marketed as "better-for-you," bringing retail and foodservice buyers a one-stop shop to see what’s new and learn about trends and opportunities to increase their share of the healthy foods business.

“We’re now pleased to bring the SmartFood Expo side-by-side with our fresh foods, produce, floral and cold chain shows at McCormick Place in Chicago,” Tom Stenzel, president and chief executive officer of United Fresh, said in a press release. “A show focused exclusively on healthy foods is the ideal complement to our current events.”

The new SmartFood Expo will be the fifth partner show in Chicago in June 2018, filling the 800,000-square-foot South Hall at McCormick Place side-by-side with the International Floriculture Expo, Global Cold Chain Expo, United FreshMKT and United FreshTEC. “We’re thrilled to continue growing the footprint of healthy food, fresh foods, produce, floral and the cold chain services need to deliver the highest quality to consumers,” Stenzel said.

As for this year, with 307 exhibitors between the United FreshMKT and United FreshTEC expos, another 140 at the Global Cold Chain Expo and 197 exhibitors at the International Floriculture Expo, there was no shortage of people to meet with, things to see and information to learn. If the booths weren’t enough, United FreshMKT and United FreshTEC educational sessions, which started the day before the trade show floor opened, continued throughout the show.

DSC 2769Julie Krivanek of Krivanek Consulting with Lorelei DiSogra, honoree and featured speaker at the Reception Honoring Women in ProduceEach year the Reception Honoring Women in Produce is held in conjunction with the United Fresh convention and expo. Lorelei DiSogra, who recently retired from the United Fresh Produce Association, was this year's honoree and featured speaker at the June 14 event. 

In addition to her time at United Fresh, DiSogra worked for the National Cancer Institute, Dole Food Co. and the California 5 A Day Campaign. She also developed Bobby Banana and 40 other fruit and vegetable characters that encouraged kids to eat “5 fruits and vegetables a day.” And as one of the creators of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, DiSogra played a key role in getting more than 5,000 salad bars donated to schools across the country.

On June 15 the United FreshMKT and United FreshTEC educational sessions concluded and the trade show floor closed. The successful three-day affair wrapped up Thursday evening with the Chairman’s Reception and Retail-Foodservice Celebration Dinner.