Featured image: Food Network star, Robert Irvine speaking at the General Session of the IFPA Foodservice Conference. Photo courtesy of Candi Fitch with the Idaho-E. Oregon Onion Committee.
The two-day International Fresh Produce Association Foodservice Conference held July 28-29 at the Monterey Conference Center and Portola Hotel & Spa hit a high note across the industry with a record number of attendees and a high-energy expo.
According to the Association, nearly 2,000 attendees enjoyed the show that brought produce suppliers, foodservice innovators, chefs, menu planners and others to the 41st conference held in Monterey
IFPA CEO Cathy Burns said, “Foodservice and produce took over Monterey Bay and it was exciting to see and hear the energy and intention in every conversation I’ve had this week. The foodservice segment, while one of the most disrupted segments since the beginning of the pandemic, has also proven to be incredibly resilient, creative and innovative. This is exactly the energy we need because our industry is committed not just to coming back but to transforming the way we feed the world to create a vibrant future for all. This community is committed to getting more fruits and vegetables on plates and menus in every restaurant, school, hotel, hospital, stadium, and every other place food is served around the world.”
Among the show’s highlights was the K-12 Foodservice Forum which had almost 100 K-12 professionals registered from some of the largest school districts in the country. The participants were given tours of local farms to learn more about how the produce served to students around the U.S. is grown and processed.
General session speaker Robert Irvine – who is a Food Network star, world-class chef, and philanthropist – led attendees in a discussion about changing the trajectory of how we eat, and in another general session speakers Bruce Taylor, CEO of Taylor Farms; Michel Nischan, founder and chairman of Wholesome Wave; and Vincent Huynh, culinary director at Agricole Hospitality, all shared their personal insights about promoting produce from their places on the supply chain.
The conference expo, dubbed “the best five and a half hours in produce,” provided a great opportunity for foodservice operators and other buyers to share information on the best products, services, and innovations. The buyer audience consisted of more than 900 registered buyers from over 250 companies, making the buyer-to-supplier ratio close to one-on-one.
On the show floor, IFPA recognized the winners of the Expo awards, which included Best of Show Winner Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co; Best of Show Runner Up Duda Farm Fresh Foods; and Best Product Promo winner Rijk Zwaan for its new Red Vein Arugula.
And OnionBusiness thanks Idaho-E. Oregon Onion Committee Executive Director Candi Fitch for sending us the photo of the session with Food Network star, Robert Irvine.