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United Fresh Expo reboot becoming a must attend event

United Fresh has made a concerted effort to deliver on all the top value aspects of the event and elevate the traditional elements that make this show a must attend each year.Expo-Floor

Through interactive new partner events, education, entertainment and more than 250 exhibitors across the North Hall of McCormick Place, the United Fresh 2019 Convention & Expo, June 10-12 in Chicago, will deliver new energy, new content and a totally new experience for all. Are you ready to change the way the fresh produce industry does business?

Over three days of enhanced networking, B2B partner meetings, and a whole lot of energy packed into Chicago’s McCormick Place, United Fresh has created something new around every corner. Kicking-off on Monday, June 10, the Produce Outlook Roundtable Luncheon will forecast what’s ahead for the produce industry. Moderated by Tom Stenzel, president and chief executive officer of United Fresh, attendees will hear from Paul Lightfoot, CEO of BrightFarms; Mary Thompson, CEO of Bonduelle Fresh Americas/Ready Pac Foods; James Rogers, CEO of Apeel Sciences; Jose Antonio Gomez, CEO of Camposol Fresh USA Inc.; Melissa Melshenker Ackerman, president of Produce Alliance; and Rich Gonzales, vice president of Global Produce Sourcing for Walmart Stores Inc.

Following lunch, 25 buyers and 25 vendors will participate in the exclusive Partner X-Change. New to United Fresh, this speed-meeting event sold out within the first month of being announced. All other attendees will spend the afternoon learning from influential industry leaders and innovative companies during educational workshops. Attendeescan follow any one workshop track — marketing, technology, business management and food safety — or mix-and-match their experience.

Monday concludes with the popular Opening Party, this year hosted at Navy Pier’s Crystal Gardens. Make new connections and gather with old friends as we kick off our last year in Chicago.

Tuesday morning, inspiration begins with Morten Hansen, one of the leading management authorities of our time, setting the stage during the Breakfast Keynote General Session. United Fresh’s Produce Industry Leadership Class 24 also will be graduating Tuesday morning. All attendees at the general session will receive a copy of Hansen’s bestseller, Great at Work.

The United Fresh 2019 Expo will open its doors with a ribbon cutting at the entrance to the North Hall of McCormick Place at 10 a.m. This year, live entertainment at the show’s entrance will feature Drew McDonald (vice president of quality and food safety for Taylor Fresh Foods) and his Monterey, CA-based band, The All In, who will ensure attendees are energized and ready to change the way they do business.

Explore new and traditional destinations across the show floor, interspersed with the more than 250 vendor exhibits. United Fresh has elevated traditional show floor education with the introduction of Main Stage and Stage Next. Discover passionate people, business and energies and new technologies, concepts and strategies that will advance the fresh produce industry in these new learning destinations.

Other destinations include the new International Trade Center, where attendees can meet with representatives from embassies and consulates around the globe to discuss activities to facilitate trade and learn ways to partner with the produce industry in these countries.

United Fresh EATS is the new food hall on the floor where attendees and exhibitors alike will have the opportunity to grab lunch from five different concepts, each featuring a fresh produce item.  

Discover your next marketing business partner at the Marketing Solutions Zone where leading agencies focused on produce and product marketing solutions will have their capabilities on display.

The FutureTEC Zone returns for its third year, as more than 25 start-up companies showcase the next generation of tech for the fresh foods industry.

This year’s Fresh Festival for School Foodservice will take place at 4 p.m. right off of the show floor. Connecting the produce industry with leading K-12 school foodservice buyers, this event will also appeal to retail and foodservice decision makers seeking solutions for providing healthy, fresh produce options to kids.

Tuesday is an open evening for attendees and vendors to plan their own Chicago experience, but don’t schedule dinner too late. United Fresh will gather for the new United Fresh Late Night! Head on over to Chicago’s famed House of Blues for an exclusive concert featuring local talent, Talk of the Town. Stay long enough and you just might be treated to an added surprise.

Start the final day of United Fresh 2019 with inspiration from Jan Berk, chief operating officer of San Miguel Produce Inc., the honoree and featured speaker of the Women in Produce Breakfast General Session, at 8:30 a.m. This year, United Fresh’s traditional Women In Produce reception elevates to a breakfast, allowing more industry professionals to attend and be inspired.

At 2 p.m. you’ll want to venture over to the Main Stage one more time as this year’s Innovation Award winners will be announced in seven categories.

United Fresh 2019 will conclude with food, drinks and fun, as we honor the industry’s front lines during the Retail-Foodservice Celebration. All badge holders are invited to attend and celebrate the 25 Retail Produce Manager Award winners and eight Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award winners for their critical and creative work elevating fresh produce consumption.

(Mary Coppola is vice president, marketing and communications for United Fresh)