Alicia Keys had it right when she said that “big lights will inspire you.”
Our team walked off of the show floor of the New York Produce Show on Wednesday evening with a feeling that 2019 has great things in store for the fresh produce industry. Why? The show floor was buzzing with excitement and our conversations were full of optimism for new ideas and innovations for the coming year! It’s one of the many reasons we love traveling to New York whether in the winter, spring, summer or fall. And when you’re exhibiting in a city known for show business, it’s only fitting that you put your best foot forward with show stopping displays and new products to get people jazzed!
Here are a few things that stood out last week in New York:
Heavy Foot Traffic
The aisles were packed as the show opened at 10 am! We spoke to exhibitors and attendees alike who all agreed that foot traffic was great. Many exhibitors remarked to us that they were able to meet with key customers early on in the day and that there was a healthy level of wholesaler and food service traffic as the show progressed. In fact, wholesalers and food service buyers hold a strong presence at this show, so many exhibitors told us that they like to come to meet with these audiences specifically often more so than retailers. If east coast wholesale and food service is a target for your business in 2019, you may want to add the New York Produce Show to your list.
Leafy Greens Growers Work to Elevate Romaine
As fresh produce professionals, we sometimes take for granted how well educated we are about food safety and product availability. We were reminded of this during our trip to New York when we ordered a caesar salad and were told it was unavailable because of the recall. To further this, as we walked the show floor and chatted with industry friends, we heard tales of chaotic Thanksgiving holidays as growers scrambled to address the recall. The host of the New York Produce Show, Jim Prevor, was recently published in the Wall Street Journal uncovering an interesting perspective that we should all consider with regard to the “outbreak”.
We discussed the importance of social media as a communications platform and customer service tool during times of a food crisis. We sympathize for the growers left scrambling to address a vague, hasty announcement from the CDC. But the message we heard echoed the most was the importance of coming together as an industry and communicating the level of responsibility the CDC and FDA should feel to leafy greens growers. It’s clear that we must communicate the realities and implications of a food safety alert with consumers who are easily frightened by such messages with our very own individual brand’s media outlets such as websites, social media networks, email marketing, etc.
Bozutto’s Star Spangled Booth Turned Heads
There’s no better city than NYC to create a display that stops traffic in its tracks! Easily one of the most buzzed about displays at the show was Connecticut-based wholesale distributor Bozutto’s American flag display made entirely of fresh produce. They skipped the traditional 10x10 booth setup in favor of the flag display which had drew a crowd throughout the duration of the show. Our team especially found it difficult to walk by without snapping a selfie or three!
Arrowfarms Created an NYC Art Pop-Up Experience
The Arrowfarms booth also featured works of art! This creative booth setup looked like an art exhibit at first glance, catching the attention of attendees and drawing them in to learn more. The Arrowfarms booth crew’s attentiveness and excitement about their product and their booth also stood out on the show floor. We loved learning about the artist behind the creative display and appreciated the passion the team had for this industry.
Smitten Apple Wrapped Goodness Inside their Booth
The Smitten Apple booth also made us do a double-take; we loved their display of little gift boxes containing Smitten apples with a bow on top - a perfectly festive way to get our attention this time of the year! Although you won’t see the little gift boxes in grocery stores, we loved hearing about their e-commerce strategy and that it is possible to purchase their apples online, if this varietal has you totally smitten!
Bay Baby Produce Gifted Convenience to Holiday Shoppers
Continuing on the trend of gift-worthy produce, Bay Baby Produce brought personalization and festivity to the show floor with their line of Fruit Deco™ and Pumpkin Patch Pals products. Their pie baking kits, complete with two organic pie pumpkins, a spice packet, and a recipe, are a creative way to provide shoppers with convenience during the holidays, while still providing them with the experience of baking together. We loved the idea of personalizing their brandable apples as corporate gifts as well - what a creative and thoughtful way to send a gift that isn’t a standard box of popcorn!
Love Beets Innovated a Classic
At DMA, we’re huge fans of Love Beets in all forms - the beet salsa is often our favorite bite from tradeshow exhibitors. At this year’s NYPS, we were happily surprised to see a new offering from one of our favorite innovative brands - Love Fresh Baby Potatoes! These marinated potatoes had a similar flavor to the classic marinated beets, but without the earthy flavor of the red root veggie. This new product will be a hit for holiday cooking and backyard BBQs alike, and we can’t wait for it to hit store shelves.
Shelf-Stable and Better-for-You Snacks Continue to Shine
Freska’s Dried Pineapple & Mango Brought Tropical Vibes to the North East
Freska Produce brought healthier snacking options to the show floor in the form of dried fruit snacks - specifically, dried pineapple and mango. These organic fruit bites contained no added sugar coating and highlighted the naturally sweet aspect of perfectly ripened and expertly dried produce. The flavor of the dried pineapple in particular blew us away. It’s packed with tropical flavor and has a texture of a natural fruit chew, making this the perfect on-the-go solution for better-for-you snacking.
Sonatural Shots Powered Us Through the City That Never Sleeps
We’ve seen trendy produce like turmeric and ginger shine with shoppers for a while now, but the folks at sonatural are innovating this trend further with their line of on-the-go health shots. These two-sip drinks are low calorie, free of added sugar, and contain 100% natural ingredients. From the branding to the packaging to the flavors inside, our team loved tasting these convenient and nutritious shots. And if you’re a fan of the fun-sized drinks, you’ll likely love their range of cold-pressed vegetable and fruit juices, too!
No matter how you slice the Big Apple, we certainly got our fill of fresh ideas both on and off the show floor in New York City. If you are interested in exhibiting in 2019, contact the show organizers to learn more.
Looking back on 2018, it is hard to believe that the NYPS was our final event of the year and just how quickly this year flew by. As we reminisce and prepare for 2019, we reflect on the many events that we had the privilege to attend that elevated our perspectives on the trends and innovations shaping our industry today.
If you’re anything like us, the calendar is already filling up with great opportunities to learn and network in the new year. We look forward to seeing you in 2019 and wish you a happy and healthy holiday ahead!
Here’s a recap of what else blew us away in 2018:
- CPMA Convention 2018
- United Fresh 2018
- Organic Produce Summit 2018
- PMA Foodservice 2018
- Fresh Summit 2018
For more fresh produce marketing insight, follow us on Twitter at @TheCoreBlog.