National Editor Tom Karst chatted on March 13 with John Toner, vice president of convention and industry relations for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.
10:37 a.m. Tom Karst: John, thanks for taking time to tell readers about your work to prepare for the upcoming United Fresh show in Dallas.
10:37 a.m. John Toner: Not a problem.
10:38 a.m. Karst: What kind of venue will the show be in this year?
10:39 a.m. Toner: The show is being held in Dallas, at the Dallas Convention Center along with (American Meat Institute) and (Food Marketing Institute). For those that remember the Power-of-5, it will be similar in scale, but the show floors much more compressed, which will be great for maximizing time for the attendees and exhibitors.
10:40 a.m. Karst: Will the educational sessions be separate from show hours, or perhaps even on the show floor?
10:42 a.m. Toner: There will be education all over the place. Not only formal general sessions, workshops and learning centers — there is the opportunity to learn in the hallways and elevators from peers and produce industry icons, but also the opportunity to learn what is happening outside of fresh produce at center store and in the meat industries as well.
We have a great dynamic to offer this year. I would venture to bet one could learn more about an industry with an hour on a trade show floor than any other medium to learn about how an industry operates.
10:44 a.m. Karst: What kind of crowd do you anticipate in total, and perhaps if you have numbers specific to the produce industry?
10:45 a.m. Toner: We are anticipating over 4,500 produce industry attendees, if not 5,000. Our numbers are growing stronger every day. I expect over 20,000 attendees across all three events, but we have the potential for over 25,000.
10:47 a.m. Karst: How about exhibitors and exhibit space? What are the numbers you anticipate for your exhibitors this year? What were a few reasons why people decided to exhibit this year?
10:51 a.m. Toner: We are still tracking just over 10% ahead of last year on exhibit space and exhibitors. We are looking for a positive event for the industry. Some reasons are (that) Dallas is a produce town — lots of families that have been in the business a long time are located there. It’s very accessible to most of the country, and internationally as well.
Texas is second to California when it comes to farm-gate value of agriculture, so there is an abundance of opportunities outside the show to meet with folks while in town. Dallas is very business friendly, so most major companies already have a presence in the area.
10:57 a.m. Karst: John, thanks for the update on the show in Dallas. Anything you can say now about 2013 expo plans?
10:58 a.m. Toner: We are still working on our final announcement plans for 2013, it’s going to be in a great location — one of the industry’s favorites.
But I can’t scoop that news just yet — all eyes and attention need to be on Dallas.