BOSTON — The New England Produce Council's 14th annual expo was marked by a strong retail presence, a varied trade show and a keynote speech by a baseball hero.
Beginning with the opening cocktail party Tuesday evening, April 2, held at The State Room and sponsored by 4M Fruit Distributors in Everett, MA, the show got into high gear Wednesday morning, April 3, with a keynote speech by Tim Wakefield, a retired knuckleball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
Another aspect of the New England Produce Council is its Career Pathways program, a partnership with the PMA Foundation, sponsored by Cheshire, CT-based Coast to Coast Produce in memory of that company's founder, Peter Sticco, who died in September 2008.
"We're very proud of the Career Pathways program," NEPC Executive Director Laura Sullivan told The Produce News after the show ended. Having the students from that program at the expo "has enhanced our show quite a bit," she said. "It was really a nice part of the show. It's a program that Peter would be very proud of."
Concerning attendance, Ms. Sullivan said, "We have great support from the New England retailers. Since the first year, we've had a commitment from the New England retailers. And 14 years later, they're still here."
Chad Puschel, sales representative of Sunny Valley International Inc., with Vincent Migliore, a student at the University of Maine, and Bonnie Lundblad, sales representative for Sunny Valley.
Craig Minichiello, Mike Maguire, Catherine Arsenault, Gary Arsenault and Dale Miles of Market Basket, which has 70 stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
At the Jersey Fresh booth were Paul Kneeland of Kings Food Markets, Shirley Willis and Brenda Flaim of R&R Flaim Next Generation Produce and Al Murray of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
Representing the New York Apple Association were John McAleavey, Molly Golden, Jim Allen and Susan Sarlund. The large poster behind them listed 19 apple varieties available from New York state.
Mike Robichaud, Randy Levine, Dan McAllister and Tom Mara of Bozzuto’s Inc., which won first place, single-booth category, in the NEPC’s Best Booth Contest at this year’s show.
At the National Mango Board booth, Megan McKenna, Wendy McManus and CeCe Krumrine displayed a beautiful variety of mangos.
Kurt Zuhlke of ProducePackaging.com and Kurt Zuhlke & Associates Inc. displayed cake and donut plastic containers, two of many container styles offered by the company.
Merle Axelrod and Dave Axelrod of Supreme Cuts, which for the first time was highlighting cut fruit chunks, including papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew and a fruit medley.
Mike Stephan and Mark Kreiner of Monterey Mushrooms displayed five flavors of stuffed mushrooms stuffed two different ways: Baby Bellas and Portabellas.
Chris Kiehm and Brian Kastick of OSO Sweet displayed jumbo Texas onions in five-pound full-wrap bags.
Mark Leone, Bill Litvin, Doug Stewart and Brian Threlfall of Giorgio Fresh Co. displayed a ‘D’Lightful’ brand package of Vitamin D Portabella mushroom caps.
Tim Wakefield, a retired knuckleball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, delivered the keynote address April 3 at the New England Produce Council’s 14th annual expo.