Anaheim Convention Center to host FPFC Expo
More than 120 exhibitors and a thousand attendees are expected to convene at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 6 for the Fresh Produce & Floral Council Expo, after a two-year hiatus because of COVID-19.
FPFC Chair Kori Martin of The Oppenheimer Group said the organization is looking forward to welcoming the industry back to this show, which has long been touted as the original one-day regional trade show in the produce industry. Today, the regional produce trade show is well-entrenched, but the FPFC pioneered the effort more than 40 years ago and held them uninterrupted every year since until the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined the effort in 2020 and 2021.
The April date and the new venue represent a change for the organization as it brings the Western produce community together again. Dave Howald of the Pear Bureau Northwest, who is the 2022 chair of the Expo Committee, said several factors went into the decision to change the venue and date. “Part of it had to do with availability,” he said. “But space, more flexibility and a better set-up were also important factors.”
He noted that the Anaheim Hilton on Convention Way in Anaheim is serving as the host hotel with its adjacent location being a perfect pairing. He added that the early April date offers a great opportunity to take advantage of Southern California’s pleasant spring weather as most of the rest of the country will still be dealing with a lingering winter.
Howald also drew attention to the special event the night before the Expo that will bring exhibitors, sponsors and retailers together at the Splitsville venue in Downtown Disney, which is an added value for those supporting the Expo.
The Expo format will be similar to its traditional format, kicking off with a morning general session preceding the opening of the trade show at 10 a.m. on April 6. Former professional basketball player Lisa Leslie, who is currently a coach and a broadcaster, will be the featured speaker during the morning breakfast on April 6. Leslie had a robust career as a player in the Women’s National Basketball Association spending her entire 12-year career with the Los Angeles Sparks. As a star from day one, she is often credited with being one of a core group of players who helped launch the league as she joined the team in the inaugural season of the WNBA as a first-round draft pick. She was one of the top stars of the WNBA throughout her career and still holds many L.A. Sparks career and season records.
The breakfast event will also feature the awarding of the Norman H. (Buz) Bolstad Produce Award as well as the FPFC Floral Achievement Award. Howald said the separate and prestigious awards are presented annually to two deserving individuals in the California produce and floral industries. The recipients are not announced until a biography is read and the awards are presented. “I do not know who they are,” he said convincingly on March 22.
Howald noted planning the FPFC Expo this year had its challenges as coronavirus restrictions were still in place during much of that period. “The Expo committee was not able to come together in person as often as we liked but we did use Zoom for most of our meetings, which worked very well,” he said, adding that he had a great committee with each member bringing their talents, ideas and work ethnic to the project. “I believe at the end of the day we will have met our expectations. It is still a difficult time to hold events as some companies are still not allowing their employees to travel. But we have had a great response from the retail community with many retailers committed to coming.”
He added that California is home to many retailers specializing on ethnic demographics, and many of them are coming as well.