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Another Innovative Year for United Fresh

Another Innovative Year for United Fresh

The West Hall of McCormick Place in Chicago this past June was the innovation epicenter for the entire fresh supply chain. For two days, 7,500 attendees and 700 exhibitors participated in the four co-located shows: Global Cold Chain Expo, the International Floriculture Expo, and the new United FreshTEC and United FreshMKT Expos.

United’s two expos offered attendees and exhibitors a more personalized experience than years past. United FreshMKT Expo, the fastest growing segment of the annual United Fresh event, unveiled the new Organic Showcase – where more than 50 organic products were on display – providing buyers with the unique opportunity to explore everything organic in one location on the show floor, maximizing their time for discovery.

Attendees voted for the United Fresh Innovation Award Winners – an annual favorite of the trade show. Out of 46 finalists across five categories, the 2017 Produce Innovation Awards Winners are:

  • Best New Food Safety Solution: Nature’s Frequencies – Food Freshness Card

  • Best New Fruit Product: Crunch Pak – Crunch Pak Apple Rings

  • Best New Packaging: Dole Food Company – Dole GO Berries!™

  • Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: Full Harvest – Full Harvest

  • Best New Vegetable Product: Veggie Noodle Co. Veggie Spirals – Veggie Noodle Co. Veggiccine

Growing from the equipment side of the trade show floor to a true tech expo focused on innovations in fresh foods technology from field harvesting to packing, packaging, processing, and refrigerated delivery to customers worldwide, United FreshTEC Expo boasted new equipment and solutions for automation, engineering, supply chain management, food safety and more.

The FutureTEC Zone was a popular attraction at the FreshTEC Expo, with more than 40 start-up companies ready to solve business challenges with their innovative solutions. Attendees found the answers to their food safety questions, including solutions to help businesses comply with FSMA and advance their food safety operations, at the Food Safety Pavilion. In addition, the University Research Poster Session featured cutting-edge research on food safety and quality aspects of fresh and fresh-cut produce, from an international range of researchers and research organizations.

The FreshMKT and FreshTEC Learning Centers were once again anchors on the show floor, giving attendees an opportunity to hear from the experts on a variety of topics in 45-minute education presentations.

Attendees and exhibitors also participated in the newest feature of the United Fresh event: the FreshMKT and FreshTEC X-Changes. During the X-Change Sessions, industry professionals who share common interests connected and participated in group discussions, exchanging perspectives on key industry issues and topics. The FreshMKT X-Change covered topics such as organics, branding, merchandising, and innovative product development. At the FreshTEC X-Change, topics included food safety, sanitation, product development, packaging, and supply chain management.

Taking place the day before the expos opened, the United FreshMKT and United FreshTEC Conferences – another new feature of this year’s event – included five hours of general session presentations from industry experts.


The FreshMKT Conference attracted produce and fresh foods buyers, executives and trading partners across all retail and foodservice channels looking to jump start their business models and programs with innovative ideas, concepts and lessons from the future. The conference kicked off with a keynote from Ready Pac Foods’ CEO Tony Sarsam. Topics for the conference included today’s consumer trends; how innovative companies are shaping food culture; and how retail and foodservice executives can identify growth opportunities, as well a consumer panel. Speakers for the FreshMKT Conference included representatives from Google, Ibotta, Food Network, Good Housekeeping, Morning News Beat, and more.

During a break in the conference, attendees had the opportunity to network while enjoying featured fresh grab-and-go snacks from some of the industry’s most innovative companies at the Fresh Convenience Snack Break.

At the conclusion of the first FreshMKT Conference, Roger Pepperl, Marketing Director for Stemilt Growers, was presented with the FreshMKT Achievement Award for his significant innovations in the marketing and merchandising of fresh produce.

The FreshTEC Conference featured expert discussions focused on pre- and post-harvest automation; food safety in packing and processing operations; and an intense look at controlled growing environments. Taylor Farms’ CEO Bruce Taylor was the keynote speaker for the FreshTEC Conference, which also featured speakers from Compac, Yamaha Motor Ventures, Soft Robotics, Neogen Corporation, and more.

During a break in the conference, top universities from across the country shared their cutting-edge data, concepts and robotics, as well as their innovative projects in ag technology at the FreshTEC University Showcase. Attendees were able to follow-up with these companies at their exhibits on the trade show floor.

The FreshTEC Conference concluded with the presentation of the FreshTEC Achievement Award to Peter Quiring, Owner & CEO of NatureFreshTM Farms, whose leadership has helped advance the fresh produce industry through innovation in greenhouse technologies.

Other highlights from United Fresh 2017 include:

  • The Opening Party provided attendees from both United Fresh and Global Cold Chain Expo with a gorgeous backdrop for networking at the Shedd Aquarium.
  • New this year, the Joint Opening General Session was open to attendees of all four trade shows: United FreshTEC, United FreshMKT, Global Cold Chain Expo, and the International Floriculture Expo. The keynote speaker, Doug Rauch, co-CEO of Conscious Capitalism, left attendees feeling inspired and ready to make connections with produce innovators on the trade show floor.
  • Hundreds gathered to honor United Fresh’s retiring Vice President of Nutrition and Health, Lorelei DiSogra, Ed.D. during the Reception Honoring Women in Produce. The reception was co-located with the Produce Forum for School Success, which brought the fifty top school foodservice directors together in Chicago to explore fresh options and solutions for feeding our nation’s children.
  • United Fresh 2017 came to a close with the Retail-Foodservice Celebrations Dinner, where the industry gathered to honor those on the front lines of produce.

See the latest in produce innovation for yourself next year at United Fresh 2018! The event is back in Chicago, June 25-27.

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JBT introduces Bin Scrubber System

TECHNO JBT BinScrubber

With increasing scrutiny on food safety, JBT FoodTech introduces a patented Bin Scrubber System aimed at better cleaning of field bins. JBT’s Bin Scrubber System is unique in its ability to really scrub bins, with a brush. “With our technology it takes as little as 15 seconds to clean a bin, so this is faster and cleaner than other systems, even those done by hand or by other competing machines that only use high pressure water,” said manager Hassan Khan. The system is 100% programmable and designed for use on plastic and wood bins. Field bins are delivered to the scrubber on an automatic line which recycles the water. A cradle elevates and tips the bin onto a brush head that spins and scrubs hard to reach surfaces and corners while high pressure nozzles spray the exterior of the bin clean. The result is consistently cleaner bins and long-term utility cost savings because the system uses recycled chlorinated water and low horsepower motor to reduce energy costs.

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Global Cold Chain Expo in Chicago a big success

The event attracted more than 165 exhibitors and 15,000 decision-makers from throughout the supply chain.

The Global Cold Chain Expo, held for the first time in Chicago last 20-22 June, was the one’stop shop for innovation, education and business-to-business networking for the global food industry cold chain.

Organised by the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA), the event attracted more than 165 exhibitors and 15,000 key decision makers from retail, foodservice, processing, production, distribution, logistics and transportation. The attendees represented frozen, refrigerated, ambient and fresh operations, while the educational conference brought together innovators and experts with senior management and rising managers from all sectors of the industry.

As a partnership between GCCA and United Fresh, the GCCE was co-located with FMI Connect, the International Floriculture Expo, and the United Fresh Show. For the first time, the GCCE gave the perfect opportunity to spotlight the cold chain industry and its role as a critical component in feeding the world’s ever-growing population, all while maintaining food safety and quality between farmers and consumers.

Top 25 cold store operators handle 85% of the capacity

According to Corey Rosenbusch, GCCA president and CEO, the top 25 cold store operators represent about 85% of the storage capacity in the US, while another 300 operators take up the remaining 15%. Among the fastest’growing groups is Agro-Merchants, which has acquired 19 independent family businesses around the world over the last 3 years. Its total capacity comes to 219 million square feet.

Overall occupancy of cold stores around the world reached 83% in 2015, which is considered by GCCA to be quite high. Quizzed during the panel session of the conference about where the growing opportunities are, Rosenbusch considers the immense potential demand outside US such as China, despite local traditional facilities having a cost of just 30% of modern facilities. “80% of global growth in cold storage is outside the US,” said Rosenbusch. Indeed, 44% of US cold chain operators have operations outside the US and are slowly growing.

Panama Canal open since 26 June

According to a joint study by The Boston Consulting Group and CH Robinson, about 10%-15% of the traffic in produce shipments is due to move from the west coast to the east coast in the years up to 2020. West coast ports will still handle more traffic than they do today, but their market share will likely fall. A battleground representing 15% of GDP will be in play between the west coast and east coast ports, from New Orleans in the south to Chicago in the north.

Stable growth in the rest of the world

According to Manuel Cabrera-Kábana, GCCA board member and director of Friopuerto, the other continents are facing slow but stable growth in cold storage and transport activities. “Europe is mainly renovating its cold store facilities for more efficiency, due to high energy and labour costs,” Cabrera said.

Poland is a particular case where we shall see more consolidation, since there is over-capacity and high fragmentation among the operators. “In Africa, we see growth in more stable countries like Morocco and Senegal, while in Algeria a new financial programme is being applied to incentivize business.”

Cabrera confirms growth with Latin America, both on the east and west coast, since a lot of fruit and protein is coming from those countries. “Mexico is still investing in more capacity, but not exporting as much as they could,” says Cabrera. He concludes that a free trade agreement between Europe and the US would have a big impact on perishable trade, since milk, meat and poultry markets are still protected.

Asia’s big potential: the case of the Philippines

The Asia trade agreement in place within 26 countries will help to fuel growth in the Asian region. Anthony Dizon, president of CCAP and Kolstor Centre Philippines, confirms the tremendous potential in the Philippines, which has 8% annual growth in its cold store capacities. Ongoing projects come to 20,000 tons.

The population has a projection of 108 million by 2020, due to annual growth of 1.8%. The GDP has one of the highest growth rates in South East Asia: around 6%. Frozen items like beef have big growth potential, since its per capita consumption is just 5 kg, compared to 25 kg for chicken. Nonetheless, the complexity of operations limits automation and flexibility, when more than 7,000 different temperature-controlled items are distributed in the country.


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United Fresh 2016 tipped to be biggest yet

United Fresh 2016 promises the chance to network with thousands of customers, suppliers and potential business partners throughout three days of stimulating education, fun social events, and industry gatherings recognising top chefs and supermarket produce managers.

Craig Boyan, president and COO of H-E-B, one of America’s largest independent food retailers, will give a key address at United Fresh 2016, being held June 20-22 in Chicago.

A major convention and expo for the fresh produce industry, United Fresh brings together companies across every segment of the fresh produce supply chain, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations.

The United Fresh Produce Association says the event will be the largest to date, showcasing creative new produce innovations and fresh food trends, cutting-edge tools and technology, business-to-business meeting suites, an expert consultation centre, produce innovation awards and industry-leading education.

In the opening breakfast session on June 21, Boyan will share Insights into the challenges and opportunities facing today’s supermarkets and the role of fresh produce in serving today’s consumers. Headquartered in Texas, H-E-B currently operates more than 370 stores in the US and Mexico and has over 86,000 employees.

Wednesday’s general session breakfast keynote speaker will be Kevin Brown, president and CEO of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc.® (LEYE). Brown directs innovation and development of new concepts for LEYE, which owns more than 100 restaurants nationwide with 51 different concepts ranging from fast casual to fine dining.

Innovation in fresh foods for retail

New this year, the session Fresh Foods: The Retail Revolution, on Monday, June 20, will see top speakers offer a deeper look at how consumer demand for fresh foods is driving retail merchandising, new store formats, overall business strategies and profitability as never before. It kicks off with a presentation from Supermarket News’ Liz Webber on the results of the magazine’s new 2016 study, State of Supermarket Fresh Foods, providing the most up-to-date picture of fresh foods in retail today.

Fresh Marketplace & FreshTech learning centres

The grand opening of the United Fresh Marketplace and United FreshTech expos takes place on Tuesday morning. Fresh Marketplace is where marketers highlight what’s new in fresh foods, produce merchandising and sales solutions, while at FreshTech, innovators debut supply chain technologies, packing and processing equipment, and food safety solutions.

These are also the places to gain critical business insights in daily education sessions held right on the show floor. Topics include:

• How “Food Waste” is Changing the Retail Landscape
• Organic Produce: What’s Driving This Growing Sector
• Supermarket Innovators – Increasing Fresh Produce Sales to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Families
• Who’s Buying Your Produce? Understanding Consumer Behaviors
• Chef Insights: Foodservice & Restaurant Trends from the Kitchen
• Women in Produce: Overcoming Challenges in the Workplace
• Produce Manager Insights: Retail Merchandising Strategies from the Front Lines
• Selling to Schools – Understanding the Needs of the Largest “Restaurant” in Town
• FSMA: A Comprehensive Update
• Attracting & Retaining Frontline Workers
• Training Employees: How Understanding the “Why” Behind Food Safety Motivates Culture Change
• Does Mandatory GMO Labeling Affect You?
• Sanitary Design, Sanitation Practices and Listeria Control

United Fresh workshops

These educational ‘power-hours’ aim to advance business and professional growth. Topics include:

  • The Food Renaissance: Creating “Brand Love”
  • Leadership Lessons from the Corner Office
  • Negotiating Strategies to Improve Your Sales Performance
  • An Insider’s Look into Congress and the Administration
  • The Keys to Successful Succession Planning

Co-located partners’ expos

United Fresh will again be co-located with the International Floriculture Expo and the Food Marketing Institute’s FMI Connect, as well as a new partner this year, the Global Cold Chain Expo, which is designed specifically for executives and managers of cold storage facilities and refrigerated transportation.

“By co-locating with FMI Connect, the International Floriculture Expo and the new Global Cold Chain Expo, United Fresh 2016 is the single destination event for the total fresh supply chain. You’ll experience four trade shows, unlimited networking opportunities, education across the supply chain and tangible value to take back to your day-to-day,” the United Fresh Produce Association said.

Find out more at United Fresh 2016 at:

Image source: United Fresh show

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Don’t miss the new Global Cold Chain Expo

A one-stop-shop for all cold chain needs, the inaugural Global Cold Chain Expo takes place from June 20-22  in Chicago.

A one-stop-shop for all cold chain needs, the inaugural Global Cold Chain Expo takes place from June 20-22  in Chicago.

Created in partnership with the Global Cold Chain Alliance and the United Fresh Produce Association, this event boasts 25,000 square feet of trade show space featuring hundreds of exhibitors from every sector of the cold chain, including material handling, warehousing, construction, supply chain/logistics solutions and transportation providers.

Hosted at the McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago, Illinois, the Global Cold Chain Expo will will put a focus on the all the products, services, technologies, companies, and employees that unite to ensure perishable products safely reach consumers around the world.  

Co-located with FMI Connect, the International Floriculture Expo, and United Fresh 2016, the Global Cold Chain Expo is expected to attract more than 15,000 key decision makers from retail, foodservice, processing, production, distribution, logistics, and transportation. Attendees will represent frozen, refrigerated, ambient and fresh operations.

“Increasingly, the fresh produce industry is being challenged to compete with locally grown, short haul fruits and vegetables that are picked closer to ripeness,” said Tom Stenzel, president & CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association.

“We believe the only way we can enhance quality control in our supply chain is a deep dive into the cold chain and technologies that bring our growers, packers and wholesalers closer to the consumer,” he said.

For industry suppliers, the Global Cold Chain Expo provides a competitive advantage by building brand awareness, expanding audience penetration to all global buyers of temperature-controlled transportation and facilities, and connecting suppliers to key decision makers. Their products and services will be on the world’s largest stage in the cold chain industry.

Early bird rates for the Global Cold Chain Expo are available through May 2, 2016. For more information visit: