IFPA Sets the Course for Produce and Floral at its First Orlando Show

Cathy Burns, CEO of IFPA.

The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) hosted its first-ever Global Produce & Floral Show (GPFS) in Orlando, Florida, the only event in the world that brings together the entire global supply chain for produce and floral.

With just over 1 buyer for every 3 attendees, the show, which ran Oct. 27-29, offered a critical opportunity to make connections and create new partnerships, IFPA said in a press release. Attendees from approximately 40 countries attended the show, creating a buzz of energy from the education sessions to the show floor.

“I am thrilled with the overwhelming support our first Global Produce & Floral Show received from across the supply chain this year. This was a long-overdue return to gathering in October, and it was made possible due to the leadership and support of our exhibitors, sponsors, volunteer leaders, and guests,” said IFPA CEO Cathy Burns. “I know I am leaving Orlando feeling energized and inspired about where the global produce and floral community is headed and how IFPA can clear the path for success.”

Abasto Greeted Show Attendees

The Expo floor opened a day earlier than years past to allow attendees to visit with Business Solutions Providers and technology partners. Twelve Fresh Fields Catalyst Accelerator Program members were included in this segment of the show floor. These companies participated in this unique immersion program to bring new – ready for market – solutions to the produce and floral industries.

Related Article: Interview with Cathy Burns, CEO of IFPA

They joined a record-breaking 217 first-time exhibitors sharing their products on the floor this year.

Great Companies Attended the Global Produce & Floral Show

On Saturday, IFPA announced the Best of Show Winners, selected by a panel of judges to represent the best of the expo floor.

  • Best First-Time Exhibitor: Northern Greens
  • Best Inline in the Produce Marketplace: Conscious Foods
  • Best Island in the Produce Marketplace: Red Sun Farms
  • Best Inline in the Solutions Marketplace: Verdant Technologies
  • Best Island in the Solutions Marketplace: AirFlo Merchandising Systems
  • Best Inline in the Complementary Items Marketplace: Franklin Farms
  • Best Island in the Complementary items Marketplace: T. Marzetti Company
  • Best Inline in the Floral Marketplace: Allure Farms, Inc.
  • Best Island in the Floral Marketplace: Live Trends Design Group, LLC

A Glimpse of the Show Floor

From the Fresh Ideas Showcase Participants:

  • Best Overall Product Promo: Mastronardi Produce – SUNSET® Quakes with Dip & Angel Sweet with Dip.
  • Best Sustainable Packaging: Jac. Vandenberg, Inc. – SUNRAYS®_Home Compostable Grape Bags.

Fruits and Veggies Come From the Best Places

In addition to networking events, the Global Produce & Floral Show also featured over 20 education programs and over 45 expert speakers sharing key insights to help guide businesses into the future. This includes the four general sessions that featured famed Chef and Humanitarian, Jose Andres; award-winning actress and activist Marlee Matlin; IFPA CEO Cathy Burns; and more. This is in addition to a series of sessions taking place on the show floor and other informal programs.

“Putting together this show is no small order and requires incredible partnership across the industry,” said Burns. “Ultimately, however, the show is not possible without the IFPA staff.  I am so proud of this team and so grateful for the dedication and passion they all have for our members and our great industry.”

In her State of the Industry address, Burns urged Global Produce & Floral Show guests to capitalize on the moment and momentum around fresh produce and floral as products that give rise to life to consumers the world over.

“What we do is not for the faint at heart, and it’s not only for our prosperity,” Burns said “What we do is produce products that impact the health and well-being of every human on the planet. I’ve never felt more certain that time and purpose are linked to creating and leading what happens next for our industry.”

This was the first State of the Industry session IFPA delivered, and these are among the key takeaways:

  • Here comes the Metaverse. This emerging digital world is where consumers will go to socialize, play games, and, most importantly – buy. In 8 years, it is expected to generate $5 trillion in value. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram will remain relevant (with social media commerce there expected to grow to $1.2 trillion in 3 years), but there’s a looming change from novelty to knowledge, a move from entertaining diversions to engaging discussions.
  • IFPA Role: The association’s global insights and analytics practice keep a pulse on emerging trends like the Metaverse and more to guide its members and the global community.
  • Food as Medicine. From medically tailored meals to precision nutrition to produce prescriptions, fresh fruits and vegetables are poised to lead meaningful changes in global consumer health. “It’s becoming ever clearer that the solution to many of our health challenges are on the farm, not in the pharm,” Burns remarked.
  • IFPA Role: Fruit and vegetable moonshot found 6 of 8 proposals in new national nutrition strategy. Now the work begins in continued advocacy for strong policy to bring the strategy to life.
  • Innovation in Sustainability and Technology. Opportunities abound through innovation in sustainability and technology to tackle big issues like climate, energy, production, and food loss/waste. One Italian retailer is using electronic tags that automatically lower a food’s price as the sell-by date gets closer, while in the U.K., retailers are ditching sell-by dates altogether.
  • IFPA Role: Burns announced that IFPA is launching a Fresh Produce Research Center with sustainability as its first initiative to connect academia with industry and lean into IFPA’s advocacy strengths to ensure agencies prioritize investment in fresh produce research on behalf of the industry.
  • Inflation and Consumer Concerns. Food prices have continued to rise, and consumers are stretching every dollar, rand, real, peso, pound, yen, and euro. According to BMO Capital Markets, inflation-adjusted GDP is expected to grow by just 1.6% in 2022 and will likely contract somewhat in the first half of 2023 due to the high-interest rate environment.
  • IFPA Role: Soon-to-launch syndicated IFPA research on the economy, plus the popular Produce MarketWatch and Floral MarketWatch reports, provide analysis and insight.
  • Help Wanted. Everywhere. Talent retention remains a challenge as “quiet quitting” has supplanted “The Great Resignation.” Burns suggested that companies consider applying the disciple and rigor they use when measuring consumer engagement to their employees to create a “passion index.”
  • IFPA Role: IFPA DEI initiatives, compensation study, and Online Learning Academy provide opportunities for employers to ensure they are competitive when it comes to pay, as well as providing a platform for professional development.

More photos of the successful Global Produce & Floral Show

Burns closed the session with a call to action around changing the trajectory of human health worldwide.

“We have all seen the statistic: only 1 in 10 Americans consumes the recommended number of fruits and vegetables a day. Meanwhile, we are spending a trillion dollars of our national debt each year treating diet-driven diseases – diseases that can be addressed by changing what’s at the end of your fork,” she noted. “More American adults are walking around metabolically sick than healthy, and it’s even worse among teenagers.”

IFPA global research found that, across the markets of Brazil, China, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S., more than 75% of consumers overwhelmingly agree that fruits and vegetables are important, and a similar percentage feel they are eating enough. Yet, when asked how many fruits and vegetables they eat each day, the amount – 3.4 servings – falls well below World Health Organization’s recommendation.