This past Friday and Saturday, October 28 and 29, the International Fresh Produce Association held their Global Produce & Floral Show in Orlando, Florida. For the first time since 2019, the organization was able to hold an in-person event. This, combined with the fact that it was the first show since PMA and United Fresh merged last year, resulted in high expectations from industry members. Whether this would be the biggest and best event ever is what everyone was wondering upfront. Although official numbers are not available yet, it may not have been the biggest show ever, but statistics don't say it all. The success of an event is determined by many more factors, and here's what industry members had to say.
"It is so much fun to be back," said Michael DuPuis with Divine Flavor. The company brought their entire team to the event. "Platforms like these allow for the great things we hope to see in produce. It's also the place where genuine conversations happen," he added. Many exhibitors shared that it may not have been the biggest event in history, but the quality of the people that came by their booth was excellent.
The amount of traffic seemed pretty evenly distributed over the two days. Traditionally, the first day is a busy day, but the second day saw good traffic as well. However, on the show floor, traffic didn't seem to be evenly distributed, a thought that many exhibitors shared. It was very busy in the Produce section, but the business solutions and technical segments were separated and didn't nearly see the traffic Produce and Floral saw. "We thought it would be a huge blowout we were excited for," said Gretchen Lane with NatureSeal. "Although we are all produce, Business Solutions was put in a separate section," she added. On Thursday afternoon, a day before the show started, the Business Solutions section was open for two hours to give them a head start. Although this was helpful for some exhibitors, others said it wasn't well publicized, and they didn't see much traffic.
What trends and innovations were noticed? The focus on sustainable packaging and sustainable labeling continues, and at-home compostable packaging is a key part of that with the reduction of waste in mind. Along the trend of waste reduction, shelf-life extension technologies are increasingly making their way into the produce world with different technologies, but all focused on keeping produce fresh longer. To allow consumers to eat produce at the right time, a non-destructive avocado ripeness checker was launched. Ripeness checkers have been available at the grower level but are now making a shift to the consumer level as well.
In terms of product development, the share of organic is still increasing, and so is the focus on convenience. Snacking items that are easy to take with you to school, work, or sports. In addition, a number of CEA companies introduced new products like salad kits and greenhouse-grown melons, and innovation in the indoor berry segment is also still expanding. With an explosion in demand, there seems to be room to continue to add greenhouse-grown produce varieties to the category.
Next year, IFPA's Global Produce & Floral Show will be held in Anaheim, California, from October 19-21.