NEW YORK -- About 340 exhibitors helped attract close to 3,000 people to the second annual New York Produce Show & Conference, with both numbers representing dramatic increases from the inaugural event last year.
This year's event, held Nov. 7-9 at the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, had about 340 booths at the trade show, up from 220 last year, according to John McAleavey, executive director of the Eastern Produce Council, which co-sponsored the event.
"People come here by train, plane, taxi, subway -- it's a nice atmosphere," Mr. McAleavey told The Produce News Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 8, on the trade show floor. "The aisles are busy. The spirit, the turnout, the camaraderie -- there's a very vibrant feel to the show."
EPC President Dean Holmquist, director of produce and floral at Allegiance Retail Services LLC, estimated this year's attendance at about 3,000, also way up from last year. He was pleased with both the numbers and reaction he was seeing throughout this year's show.
"The responses I've been getting have all been positive," Mr. Holmquist told The Produce News a few hours after the trade show ended. "The number of attendees and the flow" of traffic at the trade show "were good," he added. "That was all positive."
The second annual show offered a global trade symposium Monday, Nov. 7, and a cocktail reception in the evening that drew a big crowd. Tuesday featured a retail panel with some of the major retailers in the Northeast, the trade show, chef demonstrations and educational sessions. On Wednesday, Nov. 19, attendees had the opportunity to participate in a variety of tours, including excursions to the Hunts Point produce market, the new Philadelphia produce market, the new Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. facility and various retailers in the New York metropolitan area.
All of those interviewed by The Produce News characterized this year's show as a success.
Kurt Zuhlke of Kurt Zuhlke & Associates, an exhibitor both this year and last, said, "The show is going very well. There's a lot of activity, a lot of people from different backgrounds," including retailers, shippers and growers. "There's a good mix of people."
At the National Watermelon Promotion Board booth, Juliemar Rosado and Melissa Coffey were enjoying their experience as first-time exhibitors at the show. "It's been a great experience. We've been able to have some good one-on-one time with many of the buyers and retailers at the show," said Ms. Rosado.
Al Murray, assistant secretary of agriculture at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, said he "loves the show. It's outstanding." Midway through the trade show, he said, "Four hours later, the aisles are still jammed. We've been non-stop all day."
He added, "People recognize the Jersey Fresh name" at the booth, which featured department personnel as well as some growers and shippers from the Garden State. "This is our major marketing area. We're making new contacts and saying hello to old friends."
Greg Veneziano, vice president of perishables at wholesale grocer Bozzuto's Inc., said, "What a great show. We're seeing our customers and seeing our vendors. It's the best of both worlds for us."
He lauded "the job that John McAleavey and Dean Holmquist" have done in co-sponsoring the event, noting, "It's a lot of work."
Like last year, Bozzuto's exhibited at this year's trade show, and Mr. Veneziano said that this year, "We were fortunate to be across from the Frieda's Inc. booth." He added that he especially enjoyed meeting Frieda Caplan, founder of the well-known specialty produce company, for the first time at this year's show.
Joe DeLorenzo, director of produce merchandising and operations at Alpha 1 Marketing, said, "There's a lot of positive energy at the show. I'm hearing very favorable comments from both attendees and exhibitors -- comments that this year is better than last year."
Mr. DeLorenzo, who is a past president of the Eastern Produce Council, added, "I enjoy visiting the booths and looking for new items. And I've definitely seen some new items."
Looking ahead, Mr. Holmquist noted that next year's New York Produce Show & Conference would provide a little distance from the 2012 presidential elections by holding the event around the first week in December, although the exact dates have not been set yet.