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Fruit Logistica is the show to go to, says Auerbach's Jeff Schwartz

by Christina DiMartino | January 03, 2011
Jeff Schwartz, vice president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., located in South Hackensack, NJ, believes that the Fruit Logistica show in Berlin is the show for companies like his to attend.

"I've attended the show five times, and I’m convinced that it’s the best show in the world for the produce industry," said Mr. Schwartz. “As our imports increased over the years, it was important to attend more international shows.”

Years ago, importing was considerably more difficult because of communication limitations. As the Internet and phone systems evolved, communication became easier and less expensive, and consequently importing became more attractive to companies like Maurice A. Auerbach.

Mr. Schwartz and Paul Auerbach, company president, began attending the SIAL shows in Paris and the Anuga shows in Cologne to try to expand their network of sources.

But they were expensive forays that didn’t provide the opportunities they were looking to gain.

“We never felt that we were getting the bang for the buck that we wanted from those shows, and we never bought into them as sound business opportunities,” explained Mr. Schwartz. “Then Fruit Logistica surfaced in Berlin. It is not a glamour destination, and the show is held in the winter, which is not the perfect time to combine work and vacation, but I had heard positive things and decided to give it a try. The first show I attended really blew me away. It’s an enormous exhibition devoted to nothing but fresh produce, along with logistics and other subsidiary vendors.”

Mr. Schwartz typically spends two-and-a-half days on the floor, walking from eight to 10 miles a day. “But I have great success in sourcing items and expanding our sourcing network,” he said. “I get to connect with about 90 percent of our existing shippers and producers. Of all shows, including the major ones in the U.S., this show sets the standard for the produce industry.”

Mr. Schwartz said that the show has enabled the company to broaden its import programs. Today Maurice A. Auerbach imports asparagus from Peru; garlic from Argentina, Chile and China; shallots from France, Holland and Canada; and endive from Belgium and occasionally the Netherlands.

“We’re totally committed to the show,” he said. “It’s a tremendous sourcing opportunity and gives us a sense of the many wonderful things available in the world. Sometimes we can’t translate all of the ideas we get into programs, but the experience makes us aware of the opportunities available.”

Mr. Schwartz said that among the things that U.S. companies can learn from the show is how other countries excel in things like marketing and merchandising.

“The arrangements and displays you see at Fruit Logistica are outstanding,” he said. “U.S. shows are drab in comparison. The displays are packed with all the touches a show needs to keep visitors uplifted. It is infectious inspiration.”

For Maurice A. Auerbach, the Fruit Logistica experience broadens the possibilities the company can put to use.

“Anyone who imports from anywhere in world should make it a point to get to a Fruit Logistica show at least once,” he said.