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FPAA's inaugural expo proves fruitful for buyers and exhibitors

The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas was pleased with the success of its inaugural expo, a recent enhancement to the FPAA Convention, which just concluded its 54th consecutive year. Now known as the Southwest International Produce Expo, or SWIPE, the event, held at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort last week, attracted more than 500 attendees, buyers and exhibitors to Tucson, AZ.

Over the course of three days, buyers, growers, distributors and allied industry partners gathered for educational sessions, networking events, awards reception and multiple outdoor activities, including retail store tours, and golf and tennis tournaments.

“We’re very pleased with the success of our first expo, alongside our annual conference, that brought together buyers, sellers and growers for an elevated experience in the Southwest,” said Lance Jungmeyer, FPAA president. “With the richness and diversity of our region and industry on display, SWIPE provided an intimate opportunity for trade partners to come together for quality business development and networking.”

Thursday evening kicked off with the Opening Fiesta, a culinary celebration of the bounty and culture of the Southwest, where the industry gathered to join in the rich environment of the SWIPE event. Friday began with a half-day agenda of education sessions that addressed challenging supply chain topics such as dealing with unforeseen disruption such as weather, labor and policy; delivering value across customer tiers presented by a panel of industry buyers; and understanding the opportunities for women in the produce industry from those who have excelled in spite of adversity.

The first ever SWIPE expo then opened its doors following the education sessions to a show floor, where the ratio of exhibiting companies to buyers was one to one.

“As FPAA chairman, the inaugural SWIPE exhibition exceeded my expectations,” said Rod Sbragia, vice president of sales for Crown Jewels Produce. “From the energy on the show floor, excitement for our Southwest region on display during the networking events, and outdoor activities, it was a pleasure to host the industry for this year's event, and I look forward to next year’s event to be held at the JW Marriott Resort at Starr Pass.”

SWIPE 2023 concluded with both a Golf Tournament and Tennis Tournament where Andy Hamilton and Dave Yeager took first place in the two-man golf shamble followed by second place performers Kyle McGrath and Scott Kosnik.

In the four-man golf scramble the first place team included Jamie Waltmire, Javier Badillo, Alex Parra and Alex Parra Jr.; in second place was Otilio Garavito, Nelson Garza and Jon Greco; and coming in third place was Patrick Mills, Luis Gonzalez, Tony Mitchell and Erick Chistensen.

Rex Lawrence placed first in the inaugural tennis tournament, followed by Santiago Astengo in second place.

Prior to SWIPE, FPAA held its annual meeting where they honored Emilia Gotsis of Omega Produce Co. as the 2023 Pillar of the Industry, and FPAA chairwoman-elect Raquel Espinoza of Produce House was named the FPAA 2023 Member of the Year.

For information about SWIPE 2024, taking place Nov. 6-8, 2024 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson and to secure your place as a 2024 exhibitor, contact Emmis Yubeta at [email protected].

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