Featured image: Inagural Y-TIPA Subcommittee (under 35 members) event, courtesy of Kristen Davis with Tex Mex Sales, LLC. From left to right: Jacob Jordan, Jovanni Bernal, Rebecca Garcia, Ashley Ojeda (keynote speaker – one dressed as an apple), Kristen Davis (Y-TIPA Chairperson), and Jesse Wiggins.
High praise has come from those who attended the Texas International Produce Association’s Viva Fresh, hosted at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine on April 21-23.
This year’s show was the seventh since the event was launched, and TIPA President/CEO Dante Galeazzi told OnionBusiness, “Yes, the show was great, but of course, I might be biased!”
Dante said organizers and sponsors were “very pleased with attendance and participation at Viva Fresh,” adding, “Participants had a high level of excitement all three days.”
He said the enthusiasm extended to all aspects of the event. “Education sessions got great feedback, and the Keynote Luncheon meal was incredible. But the Keynote Speaker was even better. Dave McGillivray’s talk on confidence, motivation, and a healthy lifestyle was so impactful that throughout the expo I was stopped by people who told me they were moved to do something like running or a marathon as a result of his speech. From the perspective of the show organizers, it is very humbling to hear that feedback. It lets us know that we delivered the best possible Viva Fresh experience to our attendees.”
Stats from the 2022 show indicate that there were “2200 participants, 200 exhibitors, nearly 400 retail-foodservice-wholesaler buyers, four sold-out hotels (Gaylord, Courtyard, TownePlace and Hilton Garden), two sold-out golf tournaments, one sold out wine tour, four packed receptions (19th hole, In Bloom, Y-TIPA, Welcome Reception), and a great time,” Dante said.
Kristen Davis, Food Safety and Sales Coordinator with Tex-Mex Sales LLC in Weslaco, TX, is the Chairman of the new TIPA subcommittee, Y-TIPA. Kristen and a college friend saw the value of a young TIPA members group of produce professionals under the age of 35 and approached Dante with the idea, and the group was launched this year. Its inaugural event was held during the Viva Fresh conference on Friday, April 22, and featured keynote speaker Ashley Ojeda with H-E-B retailer whose remarks were met by nearly 150 young professionals in attendance.
Kristen said the subcommittee intends to continue its networking activities and grow its membership, and her father, Mike Davis, said the idea is good for the industry.
“Many of the people working I work with are getting older, and it’s important for these young professionals coming into the produce industry to learn from each other and build the relationships needed to succeed in our business,” Mike said. “We are all very proud of Kristen and her colleagues for taking the initiative to keep our industry strong.” Many thanks to Kristen for sending photos of the event.
Rich Rice with Volm Companies Inc. said Viva Fresh has created, among other things, an environment for the industry “to keep up with this particular market’s developments and changes by just being at Viva Fresh.”
Rich said Volm’s relationships in the Rio Grande Valley are well-established, explaining, “Going back over 15 years now when we started partnering originally in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas with the packers there on both packaging and packaging equipment, we wanted to first support their industry and secondly realize the opportunity to meet and grow with those packers we were yet to meet.”
Viva Fresh, he said, offers the perfect venue. “Obviously it also provides a valuable chance to spend time with those we were/are currently partnered with and not only enjoy a professional environment for business conversations but a wonderful social opportunity as well to just have fun together,” he said. “Today the core reasoning is the same and our growth in Texas and even Mexico has been incredible. But now we further add the opportunity to keep up with this particular market’s developments and changes by just being at Viva Fresh.”
He continued, “We can discuss market changes and developments every year directly with these packers, and in the recent years those conversations have been more important than ever. We are all aware of the current challenges everyone is facing-from higher raw material costs, increased labor costs, and lack of labor availability, to transportation cost increases and beyond. On the positive side of that, the conversations can turn to the improvements in technology and automation and all of the things Volm can do to help offset the increased costs.”
Rich added, “Obviously Volm has invested heavily and been out front in developing these technologies and has an incredible offering to truly help packers realize better efficiencies and overall cost savings in their packing facilities. Our growth at The Volm Companies in this region is synonymous with attending Viva Fresh in many ways. It is a great platform that ensures we can share broader what makes Volm an MVP (Most Valuable Partner).”
And when asked about the turnout for Volm’s customer base, Rich said, “Honestly this was the best turnout I can remember seeing in a very long time – possibly ever. I do not know the numbers, but it was very busy start to finish, and we were very pleased and heard many of our friends and customers say the same.” Many thanks to Rich and the Volm team for sending in great photos from the golf and meet and greet event. Click to expand and scroll.
And S. Texas onion man Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco told us his booth was busy at the show. “It was a really good show,” Don Ed said. “Everybody had a great time, and the show was totally packed. It worked out very, very well.”
And Eagle Eye Produce’s Joe Ange provided us with his take, saying the 2022 show brought a good crowd to Texas.
“Eagle Eye Produce is a proud sponsor of the Viva Fresh Expo,” Joe said. “The TIPA always puts on a great regional show, and we look forward to connecting with the industry at Viva Fresh each year. Our focus this year was on our year-round commodity programs and the growth in our onion program. With new partnerships in Idaho, Oregon, and Texas we are bolstering our USA Grown year-round onion quality, consistency, and supply. This year’s show was very well attended, and we were all very happy to be together with so many great friends – old and new!”
Chris Woo with Owyhee Produce also told us this year’s Viva Fresh was a big hit. “The show was standing room only at times,” he said. “It was good to see folks I hadn’t seen in person for a while, and it was good to meet and interact with customers that have been anxious to finally get to see me in person.” And, Chris added, “The location and venue were great. Organizers and sponsors did a great job, and hopefully what was trending over the weekend will continue.” Many thanks to Chris for snapping great photos during the show. Click to expand and scroll.