Event planning is my bread and butter. I know what it takes to make a good event and how much work goes into just a few days of hosting people. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the Viva Fresh Expo, an event only three years young. The event brings together suppliers, growers, transportation, food service and retailers in a friendly environment ripe with opportunity. The event may only be 3-years-old but I fully expect it to be going strong at 30 years! The Viva Fresh Expo focuses on the relationships between growers, suppliers, and retailers much more than other events I have planned in my short tenure at Robinson Fresh. The schedule fosters networking via the popular golf tournament, a variety of hospitality functions and–of course–the expo floor. It allowed for plenty of opportunities to connect with contacts, talk shop, and enjoy the various events. The show had a buzz of excitement. The crowd was lively and, at times, it seemed like a family reunion given the deep relationships represented—lots of handshakes and hugs all around. The show focused on the Southwest Texas and Mexican market, but incorporated produce trends and issues we see nationally and globally. A few of the trends included:
- Recently implemented and important for most attendees, FSMA’s sanitary transportation of food rule was a hot topic on the show floor.
- I heard a lot about NAFTA; given the current unknowns in Washington, it was a source of discussion and speculation about the future and how it will impact the produce industry.
- There was also a strong focus on healthy eating, but less buzz around fresh meal delivery compared to other events I have been involved in planning.
- Ripening and cutting mangos was a popular talk by The Mango Board, both on the show floor and as follow-up conversations on Twitter.