Now in its fourth year, the Viva Fresh Expo hosted by the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) will be held April 5-7 at San Antonio’s JW Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa.
The hugely popular golf tourney on April 5 is sold out, testament to the event’s growth in its few short years.
It started as a regional event – which it largely remains – but Viva Fresh is attracting major retail buyers from across the country and South of the Border.
According to organizers, “The success of this regional event is due largely to the growing importance of Texas, Mexico, and the Rio Grande Valley that connects the two as a fast-growing produce production and transit epicenter. In 2016, TIPA established a Retail & Foodservice Advisory Board made up of 14 retail and foodservice contacts to assist in guiding the direction of the Viva Fresh Expo. The advisory members have reinforced the significance of this region and cite its importance as a main factor in their attendance and involvement with the expo.”
Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of TIPA, attests on the Viva Fresh website, “We’ve seen increased attendance from retail and foodservice buyers from companies including H-E-B, Walmart and US Foods, and 100 percent of our surveyed retailers say the expo meets their business needs. Since we know this region is a main focus for attendees, we’ve increased our outreach to include more regional growers and revamped our exhibitor list so the majority of exhibitors will be from Texas, Mexico, and the Southwest United States.”
Always eager to promote our favorite crop, more than a dozen onion handlers will be among the 160 exhibitors.
And in addition to the great networking opportunities and the golf tournament, Viva Fresh will provide lively educational sessions and an impressive lineup of speakers, including Bridgework’s consultant Phil Gwoke, who will give the keynote address at Friday’s luncheon.
Gwoke will address “The Multi-Generation Marketplace: How It’s Changing the Face of Produce Consumption.” According to the program’s teaser, “Never before in history have generations come together with as broad of differing cultural and value differences, as well as expectations for businesses and brands. Much is made of the differences between generations of consumers and workers.”
Phil brings experience in “age group insights” to the podium, with a “unique knowledge of the perceptions and motivation factors that differ from Millennials to Gen X and Baby Boomers.” An internationally recognized speaker, Phil “has shared his wisdom and inspired audiences in 40 different states and 4 continents to over 100,000 people.”
Educational sessions will include “Merger & Acquisitions – The Game-changing Lottery of Private Equity and Big Business Dollars.” Panelists are Robert Lambert of ANUK and The Snack Magazine; Jay Pack, former owner and CEO of Standard Fruit & Vegetable Co.; Joel Montminy, founder and CEO of CREO Montminy & Co.; Ferrell Daste, president of Agriglobe Capital LLC.
Other sessions are “How Amazon and Technology are Fueling a New Food Retailing Paradigm,” with featured speaker Tom Edwards, chief digital and innovation officer with Epsilon; “Can You Say Inocuidad? Examining Food Safety Initiatives in Mexico” with Luis Alberto Cruz Garcia, general director of AVQ Consulting and president of HELDEN Consulting Center as well as regional representative of the Food Marketing Institute’s Safe Quality Food Program (SQF).
And to reinforce hope in what lies ahead, nine top performing students from Texas A&M University will attend as a part of the Aggies for Fresh scholarship, supported by Texas International Produce Association (TIPA). Dan’l Mackey Almy of DMA Solutions “hand selected the nine students who have demonstrated a sincere desire to pursue a career in fresh produce.”
The students selected “are eager to learn more about what a role in fresh produce could look like for them following graduation – all are interested in an internship or full-time position following the show.” The scholarship recipients are Shelby Counter, Bachelor’s in Agribusiness; Jacob Jordan, Bachelor’s in Agricultural Leadership and Development; Maria Alejandra Ramirez Lopez, Master’s in Agribusiness; Chase Mayfield, Bachelor’s in Horticulture; Bridget Santana, Bachelor’s in Bioenvironmental Science; Jessica Schaffer, Bachelor’s in Agricultural Leadership and Development; Monica Swei, Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Business Honors; Cheyenne Upton, Bachelor’s in Agricultural Communications and Journalism; and Claire Wilson, Bachelor’s in Agricultural Communications and Journalism. In addition, Aggies for Fresh is bringing Codie Wright, Sales Program Coordinator at Texas A&M University, who is passionate about bridging the gap between industry and academia.