Photo report of trade show included

Southern Exposure lived up to the expectations once again

Last week, the Southeastern Produce Council held their annual Southern Exposure event, themed 'Produce, The Final Frontier.' Just like in 2022, the event was extremely well attended. Last year's record attendance of 3,000 was met again this year, and the spirit was upbeat. "I'm always impressed with this show, and it's one of my favorite events," said Dan Martin with EarthFresh. "The best thing is that we are being entertained all weekend," he added. Giumarra's Gary Caloroso and Kristina Lorusso added that the event has a celebratory spirit, which is different from other industry events.

Out of 3,000 attendees, there were 650 self-registered buyers who had a couple of days of quality time with their suppliers. The three-day networking event started with a golf tournament on Thursday, March 2. Although many attendees happily escaped cold regions to come to Florida, playing golf in 90°F was a bit too warm for some. Friday was filled with educational sessions, and Saturday started with a Keynote Brunch. The event was closed with the traditional afternoon trade show, where 283 exhibitors showed their products and met up with produce buyers one more time.

Click here for the photo report from the show.

New product introductions
It was extremely busy on the show floor right after the tradeshow had opened. However, the exhibition area was broken down into two halls, and the front hall, where everyone entered, was definitely busier than the back hall. Between the two exhibiting halls was a section with Innovation stations, allowing companies to show their latest developments. Hazel Technologies showed how a small sachet extends the shelf-life of produce, and seed company Rijk Zwaan showed the Tatayoyo pepper, a smaller greenhouse-grown pepper. On the show floor, other relatively new greenhouse products on display were Yoom tomatoes and Hiiros. The focus on health continues with juice lines being added or expanded, and one California citrus packer announced they are offering organic citrus for the first time this year. Within the packaging segment, new paper-based options continue to be introduced.

Often brought up was California's unusual strawberry season. Due to recent snow events, rain, and very cold weather, harvest has been temporarily halted. Florida growers are having a great season as a result.

Fear of missing out
It is no secret that this show is so popular there is a waitlist to exhibit. If booth space becomes available, a lottery is being held, and companies that attend SEPC's shows, participate on committees, and are sponsors of the council increase their chances in the lottery. One of the lucky companies this year is Farm Fresh Produce. "It is our first year exhibiting," said Steven Ceccarelli. I've walked the show before, and every time I had a fear of missing out, so I am glad we got in. Being based in the Southeast, it makes sense for us to exhibit at this event. Not only is it convenient, but it also means we meet retailers here that are close to our sweet potato growing region."

For those that didn't get their desired exhibit space this year, there is another chance next year. In 2024, Southern Exposure will be held in Tampa from March 7 to 9.

Click here to see the photo report from the show.

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