PLEASANTON, Calif. — From salads to exotic fruit, produce companies displayed their latest products and innovative marketing at the fourth annual Fresh Produce & Floral Council 2010 Northern California Expo on April 7.

FPFC Northern California show grows

Dawn Withers

Gills Onions LLC, Oxnard, Calif., is now selling its sliced sweet onions in a new plastic container, says Nelia Alamo, director of sales and marketing. The onions will available seasonally starting in May and come in 6-ounce recyclable plastic containers.

The one-day expo at the Alameda County Fairgrounds featured 147 exhibition booths and offered more than 100 companies a chance to network with major retailers and see what competitors are offering.

Despite the recession, Carissa Mace, president of the La Mirada-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council, said the expo sold out, growing by 11 booths, and preregistered 300 attendees. One sign of the show’s growing popularity was the surge in walk-in registration, Mace said, which is likely to exceed last year’s totals after the final count is complete.

“What we are seeing is a very strong show today,” Mace said.

The strong attendance shows the value of participating in the event and the strengths of produce companies throughout Northern California, Mace said.

An array of bottled juices and ready-to-eat carrots greeted visitors at Bolthouse Farms’ booth, marking the first time the Bakersfield, Calif., company attended the show. Will Mercer, regional sales director, said the regional show’s smaller size allows for more face time with produce mangers and other buyers for major national retail chains.

“We have a lot of great products,” Mercer said.

Over in the next aisle, Judd Easton, a regional sales manager for Ready Pac, Irwindale, Calif., said the company is able to catch up with existing customers at the show and spend time with the produce managers and other store-level managers who have a big effect on produce products.

“Lots of retailers have supported this by bringing their (operational) teams,” Easton said.

Eric Patrick, director of marketing for Grant J. Hunt Co., Oakland, said the value in the show comes from its one-day format and variety of products on display.

The industry and buyers “really support it,” Patrick said.

The council’s next expo is July 20 in Anaheim.

This story was corrected to show the date for FPFC's next expo.