This year’s Viva Fresh Expo, set for April 25-27 at the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, will see an expanded Gateway Innovation Awards that organizers say includes “all types of innovations from the fast-growing Tex-Mex corridor.”
In a press release sent out last week, Viva Fresh and its parent organization, the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA), announced that in addition “to packaging designs and new point-of-sale developments, industry members are encouraged to submit a wide variety of innovations included but not limited to new seed varieties, advances in production, machinery, packing facilities and greenhouses; technology or application software, food safety, traceability, sustainability efforts and more.”
Launched in 2015 by TIPA “in order to create meaningful networking and educational opportunities for its members while shining a light on the importance of the Rio Grande Valley as an emerging trade corridor and production zone for healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables available all year long,” Viva Fresh has become a popular springtime produce industry shows. In its first four years, the release said, the Expo “has catered to sold out crowds and increased buyer attendance by over 110 percent.”
This marks the second year for the Innovation Awards, and Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of TIPA, said, “We’re not putting categories or limits on the type of innovation to be submitted. Our vision is much broader than a typical new product showcase. We want to recognize excellence in innovation that extends from seed to shelf, and really celebrate the ideas that are improving each and every aspect of fresh produce coming from this region.”
Open to all Viva Fresh exhibitors and sponsors, the contest will result in 24 top tier finalists selected for inclusion in the display case. The finalists will be named by a panel of judges “comprised of retail, foodservice, and produce industry veterans based on a set of strict criteria,” the release said, adding that all “expo attendees will be encouraged to vote live, from the show floor via mobile device, for their favorite innovation to receive the Best of Show Award during the Expo.”
Applicants should submit their entries at the official application webpage: www.vivafreshexpo.com/viva-fresh-gateway-to-innovation-awards. All applications are due by Feb. 20, and the finalists will be notified by March 25.
Heidi McIntyre from Full Tilt Marketing commented, “It’s exciting to open up this program to a much wider range of possibilities redefining what innovation means and showcasing the achievements from the Tex-Mex region. Last year’s innovation showcase display was a ‘wow’ moment during the Expo that was very well received and we expect to create more buzz this year.”
The release said finalists will be displayed before and during the Expo on Saturday, April 27, and the overall Best in Show Award will be announced that afternoon, during the show. For more information, visit www.VivaFreshExpo.com.