(April 13) This year’s fresh-cut expo has a new name and a fortified food safety focus to address the critical industry issue.

The United Fresh Produce Association’s FreshTech 2007, scheduled for April 25-28 in Palm Springs, Calif., combines two produce industry conferences in one show: the new Produce Safety Summit and the Global FreshTech Conference.

The new Food Safety and Research Pavilion, where private industry, researchers and government officials can display and discuss food safety technologies and products inside the trade show, will give the industry a “heads-up” before the new technologies hit in the marketplace, said Jerry Welcome, executive vice president of business development for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh.

“The difference between this conference and other conferences is not only will you be able to talk about and hear from experts on those issues but a lot of the technology that propels those food safety innovations will be on the show floor,” he said. “FreshTech becomes one of the largest produce safety classrooms in the world because everything is right there.”

Organizers expect this year’s show to attract more attendees and exhibitors.

United Fresh expects up to 2,000 people — compared to last year’s 1,500 — to attend and visit the show’s 150 companies who have registered to show their products in 280 booths on 28,000 square feet of space.

Last year, 125 firms exhibited in 225 booths on 26,000 square feet of space, said Amy Philpott, vice president of marketing and industry relations for United Fresh.

Outgoing United Fresh co-chairman and former International Fresh-cut Produce Association chairman Mark Miller, president and owner of Fresh From Texas, San Antonio, said the show is planned to have a big emphasis on food safety.

“We constantly need to educate the public on what our industry is doing about food safety and have confidence in our products,” he said.

The Produce Safety Summit starts the afternoon of Wednesday, April 25. The Global FreshTech Conference, the traditional fresh-cut expo program, begins the afternoon of Thursday, April 26, with a keynote address and general session.

This year’s expo will have fewer educational seminars compared to last year’s. Welcome said last year’s show may have tried to hold too many seminars. He said this year’s show will feature a better balance of educational sessions.

“This conference isn’t just about food safety,” Welcome said. “It’s about the business of produce and how you deliver value-added produce safely and effectively from a standpoint of productivity and profitability. All these things come together in this business show. We’re trying to help companies be better providers of value-added produce.”