Highlights of the July 16 Southern California Expo, biggest event of the year for the Fresh Produce & Floral Council: Some 250 exhibitors, using all available space; a crowd of 1,500 from more than 100 companies, including many store sales staff and independent retailers; the 2013 Floral Achievement Award, won by Harrison Higaki of Bay City Flower Co. in Half Moon Bay, CA; a floral design contest and a keynote address by Joe Theismann, former star quarterback in the National Football League.
“Fresh Possibilities,” the show’s slogan, opened with its Keynote Awards Breakfast where Mike Casazza, FPFC board chairman and executive vice president of sales and marketing for Apio Inc. in Guadalupe, CA, presided.
The Floral Achievement Award was presented by Chris Robinson of The Pinery in Escondido, CA, the 2012 recipient. The winner, Harrison Higaki was chosen by past recipients for outstanding service and dedication to the floral industry, according to Carissa Mace, president of the council.
Theismann’s motivational speech concluded the breakfast session. He is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Football like a Pro.
The floral design contest featured 35 designers from seven supermarket chains in a race against the clock with a set of mystery products arranged to illustrate an announced theme. Winners were Patrick Olarita of Bristol Farms and Kimberly Itani, Bristol Farms. Last year’s winners were Reza Shafiei of Ralph’s and Debi Kordones of Bristol Farms.
At 4 p.m., the exhibit hall closed and the floral products remaining were donated to senior centers and schools for disabled children.
Most companies sent retail sales and food service teams to the event to meet with suppliers, often for the first time. Also on hand were college students and their mentors, under the auspices of the Produce Marketing Association Foundation for Industry Talent.