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    United Fresh Opens Registration for San Diego Confab

    Whole Foods’ Walter Robb among event keynoters

    Early registration is now open for United Fresh Produce Association’s 2013 convention that will take place in San Diego. The theme of the association’s annual convention and expo is “Discover Fresh Horizons,” which show organizers said underscores the many opportunities for education, innovation and sales growth in fresh produce at one of the world’s most beautiful convention destinations, May 14-16.

    “When you think about a San Diego event dedicated to building produce sales and profitability for the future, ‘Discover Fresh Horizons’ really says it all,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president/CEO. “We are excited to return to this beautiful city to reunite with our produce industry colleagues for an event offering cutting-edge education, VIP networking and hands-on resources the industry has come to expect from United.”

    Whole Foods Market co-CEO Walter Robb will deliver the keynote address at the May 15 opening breakfast general session. With more than 20 years of experience in the company, Robb -- who is responsible for overseeing retail operations for half of the more than 340 stores -- will share what produce consumers at Whole Foods value most, and how the produce industry and retailers can work together to meet and exceed those expectations.

    The opening party, meanwhile, promises an unforgettable adventure as attendees climb aboard the historic USS Midway, one of America’s longest-serving aircraft carriers. Industry colleagues, customers and suppliers will enjoy strolling the flight deck with a spectacular view of San Diego’s harbor and skyline as they explore aircraft spanning 50 years of military history.

    The focus on innovation and growth continues at the new post-show Produce Marketing & Merchandising Conference on May 17. The day-long educational event will bring together produce marketers to learn more about today’s sophisticated, connected and changing consumer. Attendees will gain powerful knowledge about where food dollars are spent, tools to understand complex consumer demographics, and thought-provoking research on marketplace trends that are influencing buying decisions in today’s food culture. They’ll also hear real-world examples about retail, foodservice and food companies that are changing the way consumers experience and interact with food, and uncover key insights on engaging the next generation of produce consumers.

    Throughout the convention in San Diego, United will host a number of traditional events and popular programs, from the annual Reception Honoring Women in Produce to the Chairman’s Reception & Annual Produce Celebration. At this event, United Fresh will once again honor those professionals who deliver fresh produce at the retail and foodservice levels.

    The Retail Produce Manager Awards Program, sponsored by Ready Pac Foods, pays special recognition to those on the front line in supermarkets working every day to increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The program, rewards commitment to customer satisfaction and promotion of fresh produce, innovative merchandising, produce-related community service or outreach, and recognition among peers. The Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program sponsored by PRO*ACT honors chefs for their use of fresh produce in the culinary arts, recognizing one chef in each of the following six categories: Business in Industry and Colleges; Casual and Family Dining Restaurants; Fine Dining Restaurants; Hotels and Healthcare Industry; K-12 School Foodservice; and Quick Service Restaurants

    “The influence that our retail and foodservice winners have on encouraging fresh produce consumption is undeniable,” said Victoria Backer, SVP of member services. “We’re proud to hold these outstanding professionals up as models of excellence for the industry, and to extend our thanks to the retail and foodservice leaders who support them in their careers.”

    United Fresh 2013 will continue the tradition of presenting top-flight education in two learning centers on the show floor. Market segment education is specifically designed by leaders in each sector to address the unique challenges and trends faced by Grower-Shipper, Fresh-Cut Processor, Wholesale-Distributor and Retail-Foodservice attendees. The education sessions are just steps away from the United Fresh Marketplace, where attendees will find marketers and merchandisers of fresh produce for retail, foodservice and wholesale levels of trade, and the United Fresh Tech expo, the produce industry's only expo focused on the fresh-cut/value-added market, and all the tools, technology, equipment and services needed for an efficient and profitable produce supply chain. Private Business Suites will also be available, where exhibitors and prospects can get down to business without ever leaving the floor.

    The Featured Product Showcase and the Best New Product Awards will be show floor highlights, with an array of new products and innovations highlighted by exhibitors in prominent display cases. The Best New Product Awards will be selected by United Fresh 2013 attendees in this coveted award competition, in categories such as packaging, equipment, food safety tools and, of course, best new fruit or vegetable product.

    Early registration packages are available through April 1. The All Access Pass to United Fresh 2013 includes access to all of the United Fresh education sessions and networking events, as well as the post-show Produce Marketing & Merchandising Conference. The convention will be held at the San Diego Convention Center, and the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina will serve as the headquarters hotel for United Fresh 2013, and reservations may be made online.

    For more information on registration, networking and education events and more, visit the new, mobile-friendly show site: UnitedFreshShow.org.

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