FPAA’s Inaugural Southwest International Produce Expo was a Success

The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) successfully held its inaugural expo, a recent enhancement to its well-known FPAA Convention, which just concluded its 54th consecutive year. The new event, known as the Southwest International Produce Expo, or SWIPE, attracted more than 500 attendees, buyers, and exhibitors to Tucson, AZ.

Founded in 1944 in Nogales, Arizona, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas provides a powerful voice for improvement and sustainability by serving the needs of more than 100 North American companies involved in the growth, harvest, marketing, import, and distribution of produce.

Through November 2-4, at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, buyers, producers, distributors, and 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 began 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 disruptions 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 despite adversity.

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The first-ever SWIPE expo opened its doors following the education sessions to a show floor, where the ratio of exhibiting companies to buyers was 1:1.

“As FPAA Chairman, the inaugural SWIPE exhibition exceeded my expectations,” said Rod Sbragia, Vice President of Sales at Crown Jewels Produce. “From the energy on the show floor and 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 a Golf Tournament and a Tennis Tournament where Andy Hamilton and Dave Yeager took first place in the 2-man golf shamble, followed by second-place performers Kyle McGrath and Scott Kosnik.

In the 4-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 were Patrick Mills, Luis Gonzalez, Tony Mitchell, and Erick Christensen.

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

Before SWIPE, FPAA held its annual meeting where they honored Emilia Gotsis of Omega Produce Company 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.