Fruit Logistica 2012 didn’t break the 2011 attendance record, but it did set a record for exhibitors with 2,537 companies from 84 countries participating.

Attendance was at the same level as the 2011 show. More than 56,000 visitors from 139 countries made the trip to Berlin, according to Christian Göke, chief operating officer at Messe Berlin GmbH, the show’s organizer.

One-third of the exhibitors presented innovations or updated products during the show, and 50% secured new orders according to the release.

Exhibitors representing pear and sweet potato growers in the U.S. said they were pleased with the show.

Jeff Correa, international marketing director for Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore., and Steven Ceccarelli, sales and marketing representative for Farm Fresh, Faison, N.C., both said traffic on the show floor seemed a little slower than in 2011, but they said the trip was worth it.

Ceccarelli has been to Fruit Logistica eight years, twice representing Farm Fresh, which exports about half of its sweet potatoes. England is the biggest buyer, followed by Holland and France. This year buyers from Italy and Spain discussed possible deals.

“People were even more receptive this year than last,” Ceccarelli said. “Sweet potatoes are blowing up in Europe. I ship 300 to 400 tons per week to Europe. We have doubled our volume to Europe in the past year.”

Correa said pears from the U.S., especially the Northwest, are also enjoying growth in exports. He said about 40% of the crop represented by the Pear Bureau Northwest is exported. The bulk goes to Canada and Mexico, but between 15% and 18% go outside North America.

“The trip to Fruit Logistica is definitely worth it,” Correa said after the show. “I think the joint booth (USA Fruits) worked well for the exhibitors who participated in it.”

Fruit Logistica sets exhibitor recordThe Organic Trade Co., which has offices in the U.S., Holland and Belgium, was one of the companies that made new business deals at the show. Marco Brakkee, vice president, said the company met new suppliers of organic fruit from the Southern Hemisphere.

“In the next few months we will start up some programs with them, for instance on organic plums and peaches,” Brakkee said.

Organic Trade Co. introduced a new product at the show, a 3-pound bag of organic gala apples. Brakkee said prepackaged fruit is becoming increasingly popular in Europe.

“Being able to supply customers with tailor made packaging solutions was one of the most discussed topics at Fruit Logistica,” Brakkee said.

Officials from the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del., said after the first day of the show that their exhibition fee had already been recouped because of encounters with attendees.

The Packer co-sponsored a networking event with PMA and other groups on the second day of the show, including Driscoll Strawberry Associates, Watsonville, Calif.; Sunkist Growers Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif.; CF Fresh, Sedro Wooley, Wash.; and Catania Worldwide, Toronto.

FreshConex, the fresh-cut exposition staged in connection with Fruit Logistica for the fifth year, attracted 80 exhibitors from 15 countries.

One of the topics at FreshConex was audit harmonization. David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology at United Fresh Produce Association, Washington D.C., participated in a presentation with Kristian Moeller, managing director of GlobalGAP, Cologne, Germany.

“We did discuss the fact that GlobalGAP has recognized harmonized standards and agreed that they are acceptable,” Gombas said. “It’s not done, yet, but we are closer.”