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IFE opens with over 300 exhibitors, 1,500 attendees in Miami Beach

MIAMI BEACH, FL — More than 300 exhibitors in some 700 booths with 66,000 square feet of exhibit space overall; about 700 buyers from close to 100 supermarket chains including major ones like A&P, Ahold, Albertsons, Hy-Vee, Kroger, Piggly Wiggly, Safeway, Wegmans and Whole Foods; 16 education sessions; 52 new products on display; and about 1,750 attendees. Those were the key numbers as the International Floriculture Expo opened here on June 18.

The number of exhibitors blew past last year’s level of a little over 200, noted Bob Callahan, show manager for Diversified Business Communications of Portland, ME. “We have every region of the country represented by buyers here,” he said as the show opened at press time on June 18. Full show coverage will be in the July 29 issue of Floral Marketing in The Produce News.

The show’s education and “Ask the Expert” presentations included the keynote on “Leapfrogging to Breakthrough Innovation” by Soren Kaplan, who recently received a 2013 Best Business Book Award for his book, Leapfrogging.

Other sessions covered such topics as “Floral Decor for Life’s Celebrations,” by Bobbi Ecker of FloraPros and Michael Schrader, director of floral for Schnuck Markets; merchandising techniques using balloons as upgrades, led by Peggy Williams of burton + BURTON and Bradley Gaines, director of floral at United Supermarkets; a “State of the Industry” report, and consumer research on cut-flower purchasing at major retailers, by Thomas and Timothy Prince.

The Iron Designer contest, now in its fifth year at IFE, used a “Beat the Clock” format to test the floral design skills of competitors using mystery ingredients to fashion an arrangement carrying out an announced theme in 20 tautly timed minutes. Emcees were Pieter Landman and Jacob McCall.

Competing were Mark Frank of Holland, J. Schwanke, who hosts an online floral network; Ty Leslie, designer at Tiger Lily in Charleston, SC; Tracy Hammonds, Whole Foods Market floral specialist in Boca Raton, FL; Jaclyn Gough of Fort Lauderdale, FL; Amy Costanza, buyer for mass markets for FTD; Patricia Corbin, owner of Flowers Wedding Boutique in West Hempstead, NY; and Eileen Cheng, owner of Yacht Flowers in Fort Lauderdale.

The new products display, where attendees voted for their favorites among the more than 50 entrants, included a moss purse adorned with brightly colored succulents; a patio amaryllis bulb in a “broken” clay pot; hypericum berries with colors lasered onto their tips; a Pixie Grape dwarf grapevine that grows edible miniature clusters of grapes; natural containers of burlap and wraps made from stone; and a red metal lantern with LED candle, greens, pine cones and red berries.

Other presentations scheduled for the show were design demonstrations on the exhibit hall floor and a flower-naming ceremony honoring an industry leader. The IFE show held its final show in a five-year run at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Callahan was scheduled to announce at the show that the 2014 event will be held June 10-13 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.