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United Fresh Expo gets more personal in year two of show reboot

The United FreshMKT and United FreshTEC Conference and Expos enter their second year in 2018, after a successful rebrand of the United Fresh show provided attendees and exhibitors with a more personalized experience in 2017. To further enhance the experience this June, United Fresh created the new SmartFood Expo — an event focused entirely on better-for-you food, across all food and beverage categories. This new event delivers retailers and foodservice professionals exciting and exclusive access to new healthy trends in food and beverage. SmartFood rounds out the trade show quintet completed by co-location partners, the International Floriculture Expo and the Global Cold Chain Expo.

United FreshMKT Expo continues to be the fastest-growing segment of the annual United Fresh event. The Organic Showcase — one of the most popular show floor destinations — returns in 2018, where more than 50 organic products will be on display. Centralizing these products allows buyers to explore one location on the floor then choose to journey to the product’s booth to further engage.

UnitedFresh20172017 0614 104058-1257 BP Aisles were full at last year’s United Fresh Show, above. This year’s show promises more of the same as new to the show is the SmartFood Expo — an event focused entirely on better-for-you foods. Attendees will also find the United Fresh Innovation Awards on the trade show floor where they can vote on more than 36 products and technology solutions for the title. Winners are announced on Wednesday, June 27 at 3 p.m.

United FreshTEC Expo provides attendees with a better way to harvest, package, process, trace, or deliver their products. At the United FreshTEC expo, operations, production and fresh-cut processing executives will find new equipment and solutions for automation, engineering, supply chain management and food safety.

Attendees can discover the FutureTEC Zone, located at the United FreshTEC Expo, where dozens of start-up companies with limited commercialization are ready to solve business challenges with their innovative solutions yet to hit the market. New this year, food-safety professionals can experience a hands-on workshop at the Listeria Learning Lab, where attendees will learn tools and techniques to effectively manage their food-safety operations from companies engaged in the fight against Listeria monocytogenes.

More than 100 hours of education and dialogue will take place on the trade show floor starting in the familiar United FreshMKT, United FreshTEC, SmartFood and Global Cold Chain Learning Centers — 45 minute educational presentations during show hours on Tuesday, June 26 and Wednesday, June 27. These sessions give attendees an opportunity to hear from the experts on the knowledge and insights to help their team make the smartest decisions for their company.

When attendees and exhibitors are not otherwise engaged, they can connect in the Marketing, Food Safety and Business Management X-Changes. These destinations offer an opportunity for attendees and exhibitors who share common interests and challenges to exchange perspectives on key issues and topics, including: guerilla marketing, information technology overload, brand equity (the financial kind), crisis management, ag water testing and pathogen management.

Taking place prior to the trade show are the United FreshMKT and SmartFood Luncheon & Conference, and the United FreshTEC Luncheon & Conference. These conferences each take place from noon to 5 p.m. and offer attendees five hours of general session presentations from industry experts.

The United FreshMKT and Smartfood Conference is designed specifically for produce and fresh foods buyers, executives and trading partners across all retail and foodservice channels looking to jump start their business models and programs with innovative ideas, concepts and lessons from the future. 

The conference kicks off with a keynote address from Emanuel Lazapoulos, senior vice president of Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc. N.A., followed by sessions: Join the Plant-Based Foods Revolution!; The Digital Retail Landscape; Food Media, Food Culture, and Making the Everyday Connection; and Strategic Insights from Retail Icons.

The United FreshMKT and SmartFood Conference concludes with the presentation of the United FreshMKT Achievement Award to the 2018 honoree, Mason Arnold, Veggie Nerd of Cece’s Veggie Co., for his significant innovations in the marketing and merchandising of fresh produce.

The United FreshTEC Conference is designed specifically for operations executives and managers not only looking to understand how to solve today’s challenges, but also to look beyond at the visionary innovations on the way as we prepare for the future. United FreshTEC kicks off with a keynote from Wonderful Citrus’ President David Krause, followed by sessions: Automation: Lessons Learned from Other Industries; Increasing Consumer Confidence and Improving Business Operations with Big Data; Keeping it Fresh: Packaging Innovations; and TEC Talks: FutureTEC.

The United FreshTEC Conference concludes with the presentation of the United FreshTEC Achievement Award to Edward Harwood, chief science officer of AeroFarms, whose leadership has helped advance the fresh produce industry through innovation in indoor growing technologies.

Traditional United Fresh events are also taking place.

• Monday evening, immediately following the United FreshMKT and Smartfood, and United FreshTEC Conferences, attendees can gather for the post-conference happy hour at McCormick Place before heading onto the annual United Fresh Opening Party at Chicago’s Field Museum.

• On Tuesday, June 26, the United Fresh Breakfast General Session will feature keynote speaker Bob Sutton, Stanford professor and author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling book, The No Asshole Rule - Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.

• The School Foodservice Forum kicks off on Tuesday as dozens of top school foodservice directors gather in Chicago to explore fresh options and solutions for feeding our nation’s children.

• Tuesday afternoon’s Reception Honoring Women in Produce will honor Cindy Jewell, vice president of marketing at California Giant Berry Farms.

• The industry will gather Wednesday morning for the United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Celebration Breakfast to honor 25 retail produce managers and recognize eight leading chefs for their excellence in advancing the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables through in-store program, community engagements and menu development.