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United Fresh LIVE! Community – Collaboration – Innovation

unfieerUnited Fresh LIVE! is a response to an unprecedented challenge to our industry and our world. While citizens around the globe are social distancing and avoiding physical connections, our industry must continue to find creative ways to continue doing business, and trade shows are a large part of that strategy for the fresh produce supply chain.

Knowing that we need a place to come together to share experiences, to learn new ways of doing business, and explore the innovations that will drive our industry to future success, the United Fresh Produce Association — with unanimous support from its board of directors — took a giant leap into the future of virtual events and launched United Fresh LIVE!

The platform will gather the global community to share lessons learned and plans for the future. Programming throughout the week of June 15 will include live and on-demand education, as well as daily Coffee Talks where industry professionals can gather for informal discussions on critical topics. Daily Expo Power Hours will bring the virtual trade show to life where attendees will discover innovations and make connections to grow sales and profitability. Each day will conclude with networking events, community receptions and other social gatherings, virtually.

United Fresh LIVE! will take place the week of June 15-19. As virtual events go, the traditional costs, such as flights, hotels and expenses are no longer a factor. By removing all barriers of access for the industry, participation, and therefore, education, exposure and opportunity are amplified. With these hurdles out of the way, companies can invest in staff development by encouraging more employees to seek out education sessions applicable to the career growth. Retail buyers can encourage category buyers and commodity specialists to explore new products, brands and solutions to their store’s needs. Divide and conquer takes on a whole new meaning in a virtual platform as companies can assign staff to explore different aspects of the event from the comfort of their home office or desk.

“We could never have all of our buyers at Costco travel to attend an in-person event; but now, every buyer on the Costco team can check in online to see what’s new and innovative in every produce category,” said Frank Padilla, vice president, general merchandise manager produce and meat for Costco Wholesale. “They can do so live during the event, or 24-7 at their convenience.”

What does a virtual trade show look like?

The more than 200 exhibitors participating in United Fresh LIVE! have had to revise strategies for engagement, reevaluate what booth staff means and reconsider the approach to driving traffic to their booths — and some are finding excitement in the experience.

“We no longer need to consider the cost of bringing equipment to the trade show,” said Jordan Schultz, technical support specialist for Kronen Corp. “Utilizing the technology of United Fresh LIVE!, we can create a more impactful learning environment, display our full range of equipment, and produce more value for prospective buyers at a reduced cost.”

Traditional show floor experiences like the Featured Product Showcase will be shared in United Fresh’s digital Show Preview, a PDF overview of the companies’ participation this June. The piece will give attendees an opportunity to start evaluating the booths they’ll plan to visit during Expo Power Hours, the two hours each day dedicated solely to virtual trade show exploration.

Mary Coppola is vice president of marketing and communications for United Fresh Produce Association.

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