This year’s New England Produce Council’s Produce and Floral Expo, scheduled for April 27, will feature “The Grand Slam Club!” theme.

Baseball theme set for New England Produce Council show

Organizers expect another big crowd of retailers, foodservice buyers, wholesalers, distributors, brokers, processors and grower-shippers to converge on the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

The 11th year of the show is also expected to bring increased retail buyer attendance, said Laura Sullivan, the Burlington, Mass.-based council’s executive director.

For the first time, representatives from Stew Leonard’s, Norwalk, Conn., plan to visit the trade show, Sullivan said. Brussels-based Delhaize Group — which owns Food Lion LLC, Salisbury, N.C., and Hannaford Bros. Co., Scarborough, Maine —is increasing its participation too, she said.

Wegmans Food Markets Inc., Rochester, N.Y.; Kings Supermarkets Inc., Parsippany, N.J.; and the Netherlands-based Ahold NV, which owns Stop & Shop Supermarkets, Quincy, Mass., have participated in the past but plan to increase their presence at this year’s expo, Sullivan said.

Baseball theme set for New England Produce Council show

“We are fortunate enough to know that we have a lot of great retailers that support all the various regional shows,” Sullivan said. “This increased participation gives us an opportunity for some smaller companies that may not exhibit at PMA’s Fresh Summit, the Southeast Produce Council show or the New York show to exhibit their products in front of some of these retail companies.”

In early April, Sullivan said conference pre-registrations were running high and said she expects this year’s event to draw numbers similar to last year’s. In 2010, 750 people walked the show floor that featured 230 exhibitors.

New this year, the show will feature an April 26 VIP reception, sponsored by Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga., to honor show sponsors. The show’s traditional invitation-only VIP reception is scheduled to follow in the State Room banquet facility at 60 State St.

Nomar Garciaparra, a retired Boston Red Sox shortstop, is scheduled to be the featured speaker during the convention’s keynote breakfast. Garciaparra will also sign autographs at a trade show appearance.