May 14, 2019

United Fresh 2019 full of latest in produce industry info, educational opportunities

United Fresh 2019Innovation is front and center throughout the three days of United Fresh 2019 Convention & Expo, June 10-12 in the North Hall of Chicago’s McCormick Place. In addition to the newest fresh produce, better-for-you products and tech innovations showcased in the booths of the North Hall, United Fresh provides special events and destinations on and off the show floor that will inspire thousands across the supply chain to change the way they do business. Here is a preview of some of the new energy, new content and new experiences for veteran United Fresh attendees and newcomers alike.

Monday, June 10

United Fresh 2019 begins with the Produce Outlook Roundtable Luncheon from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. Monday, June 10, as attendees gather for an exclusive look at what’s ahead for the produce industry. Six executives from some of the most innovative companies will draw from their decades of experiences, to predict what trends, best practices and insights lie ahead. United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel will moderate the discussion.

Panelists include:

  • Paul Lightfoot, CEO, BrightFarms
  • Mary Thompson, CEO, Bonduelle Fresh Americas/Ready Pac Foods
  • James Rogers, CEO, Apeel Sciences
  • Jose Antonio Gomez, CEO, Camposol Fresh USA
  • Melissa Melshenker Ackerman, president, Produce Alliance
  • Rich Gonzales, vice president, global produce sourcing, Walmart Stores

The education continues with a set of workshops in four tracks — marketing, technology, business management and food safety — rounding out from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday.

In the business management track, the “Understanding the Competitive Food Landscape” workshop covers new research from IRI that outlines emerging challenges for fresh and fresh-cut produce items, with competitive foods fighting to take market share from produce. Following IRI’s data presentation, the speakers will share their strategies to fight back and drive consumer loyalty.

One of the workshop’s speakers, Mark DeAngelis, Principal, Client Insights, IRI shares a preview:

“Over the past year we have seen a slowdown of dollar and volume growth overall in produce, but despite this, it’s still exciting to see which commodities are growing and exciting consumers,” DeAngelis said.

“During our session we’ll cover some of the latest trends, including the growing appetite for convenience, whether it be portable, cut/sliced or snack packs. And as consumers look to save time, they’re also looking for easier ways to achieve a balanced diet through the pairing of fresh fruit and vegetables with protein-rich foods.”

Tuesday & Wednesday, June 11-12

Two new stages brimming with entertainment, education and energy make their debut on the enhanced show floor, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Main Stage provides constant engagement and entertainment, converging the passionate people, business and energies created in the fresh produce industry. Main Stage sessions include “Produce at the Center of the Plate: A Chef’s Perspective,” “Retail Insights From Visionary Produce Managers,” “Winning in Today’s Food Media” and more.

Stage Next is where innovation comes to life, spotlighting new technologies, future-oriented topics, concepts and strategies that will advance the fresh produce industry.

Stage Next sessions include “Leveraging Technology to Improve Produce Safety and Quality,” “The Future of Packaging: Tomorrow’s Solutions to Today’s Challenges,” “Uberization: Real Time, On-Demand Produce and Production” and more.

You won’t have to travel far to step into the future of produce at the FutureTEC Zone. Located on the show floor, the FutureTEC Zone hosts more than 25 start-up companies showcasing the next generation of tech for the fresh foods industry. Find ways to improve operations, tools and services through new technology.

Innovation truly is around every corner on the show floor. Draw inspiration from new and innovative products in the United Fresh Innovation Awards. Vote on your favorites among seven categories, including Best New Packaging/Processing Equipment, Best New Food Safety Solution, Best New Field Technology and more. Winners will be announced on the afternoon of June 12.

United Fresh has dialed up the excitement this June, delivering curated experiences for the industry, and changing the way thousands of industry accelerators connect, learn and do business.

Registration is available at

— Ben Massoud, manager of communications, United Fresh Produce Association