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For 2009, United Fresh
Says Viva Las Vegas!

As the industry prepares for the upcoming United Fresh show in Las Vegas, one question has been answered. What is going to happen in 2009 when United’s co-located partner, FMI, is not going to have a show?

The answer: United’s planning on flying solo again:

United Fresh Produce Association Launches
Expanded 2009 Show in Las Vegas

United Fresh Produce Association announced today that it will expand its annual trade show and convention to focus on produce innovations, fresh meals, and technology solutions for the retail and foodservice marketing channels, and the total fresh produce and fresh meals supply chains.

UNITED FRESH 2009 will be centrally located at the Sands Expo Center and The Venetian Hotel in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, April 22-24, 2009. Both the full expo and all convention education programming will be easily accessible from the magnificent Venetian Hotel, which will serve as the headquarters hotel for the event.

UNITED FRESH 2009 is the umbrella show encompassing two unique expos — United Fresh Marketplace and United FreshTech. New for 2009, each expo will feature its own show floor Learning Center, where attendees will focus on business strategies and education for success. This on-floor education will complement the traditional United Fresh Annual Convention featuring a full array of general sessions, workshops, receptions and networking events bringing the entire industry together to focus on increased sales and profitability.

As part of its expanded focus on fresh foods, UNITED FRESH 2009 will feature a new Meal Solutions Showcase highlighting innovation and product development that combines fresh fruits, vegetables and other fresh foods into prepared meals and healthy snacks. This new focus on fresh prepared foods will serve the growing business of in-store foodservice operations and the wide array of restaurants and other channels traditionally focused on prepared foods.

UNITED FRESH 2009 will once again feature its Food Safety & Research Pavilion, bringing together an expanded number of companies with food safety solutions for each segment of the supply chain, as well as universities and government agencies with tools and research to assist the industry. The show will also include a Featured Product Center with an opportunity for attendees to evaluate new products, an International Visitors Lounge, and a series of private business suites that exhibitors may choose for meetings on the show floor.

Also new for 2009, the association will launch UNITED FRESH 2009 ONLINE! later this summer, creating a virtual trade show marketplace that allows potential buyers across the world to search an interactive exhibitor database for new products and services, contact exhibitors directly for product information, and learn about new business opportunities leading up to the Las Vegas show in April. Exhibitors who sign up for the 2009 show will automatically be included in this online virtual marketplace, offering a year-round marketing platform.

“UNITED FRESH 2009 will build on the successful launch of our show in Las Vegas this year, which will welcome more than 100 companies as new exhibitors, with thousands of qualified buyers and attendees already outpacing last year’s registration,” said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. “As we look to 2009, it’s clear that there will be a growing commitment to the show from foodservice and other marketing channels in addition to its supermarket base, as well as strong interest from buyers and sellers in the expanding fresh meals sector. Fresh produce is at the center of much of this new product development, and our unique combination of both the FreshTech and Fresh Marketplace expos provides the only event where the total supply chain and business leaders in this growing category come together,” he said.

“We have enjoyed a great relationship with the Food Marketing Institute these past five years, but with FMI’s decision not to hold its traditional supermarket show in 2009, we’ve actually been able to appreciate the underlying strength and potential of our own event as a multi-channel, total supply chain show serving a much broader audience of buyers,” Stenzel said. “We’re excited that UNITED FRESH 2009 will be able to forge its own unique platform in highlighting produce innovations, fresh meals and technology solutions, rather than being viewed only in its connection with one retail channel. Already, a number of foodservice providers are stepping up their attendance at the show, and we see our expanded fresh meals focus in 2009 serving both in-store supermarket needs as well as traditional restaurants and facilities where fresh produce and fresh foods are served.”

Details about UNITED FRESH 2009 will be shared with current exhibitors in Las Vegas, who have first priority to reserve space and begin sign-ups onsite May 3. The priority period will run through June 15, 2008, during which a waiting list for new exhibitors will be established first-come, first served. As a courtesy to current FMI exhibitors interested in the UNITED FRESH 2009 show, United Fresh will also extend early-sign to these companies during the priority period.

Our sense is that many in the industry are excited regarding this year’s United show. We would like to say that this is because people have heard that the Pundit will be moderating a panel on sustainability Tuesday morning, but we would actually say that Vegas is the bigger draw.

United clearly has tapped into this enthusiasm. In announcing its decision to go it alone, United also has broken with the produce industry tradition of rotating shows around the country, deciding to return to Vegas.

It is also trying to spread its wings a bit to do a better job of encompassing prepared foods, a subject we here at the Pundit know a bit about as the publishers of DELI BUSINESS magazine and the founders of the International Prepared Foods Show.

In a sense, after consolidating the old International Fresh-cut Produce Association show with United’s traditional show, United Fresh is now trying to expand.

Astutely, United is looking to expand its audience to incorporate more foodservice and other buyers as a consolidating retail sector makes the job of attracting retail buyers to any show increasingly difficult.

It all sounds very exciting. United sent along a proposed floor plan, which you can see here. It has promised to explain more this year in Las Vegas. We look forward to learning more and wish United Fresh God Speed as it ventures on this new journey.

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