In part because DMA is a Dallas-based company, Viva Fresh is high on our “must-attend” expo list each year...but certainly not only because it’s basically in our own backyard! Year after year, we’ve found that the Viva Fresh Expo, hosted by the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA), delivers Texas-sized results to all who exhibit and attend, and the 5th year was no different. We were thrilled to see exhibitors step up their game with beautifully designed displays which—tellingly—were jam-packed with foot traffic throughout the expo.
This year’s Viva Fresh was a true demonstration of the fact that regional produce trade shows can pack a big punch when it comes to making meaningful connections, initiating sales conversations, and experiencing inspirational education. See below to learn more about what blew us away at this year’s expo—and why you should add it to your own “must-attend” list for 2020!
An Inspiring Reminder from Chef Seamus Mullen
To kick off the expo on the right foot, this year’s keynote luncheon left the DMA team and Aggies for Fresh students feeling inspired from the very start—and we weren’t alone. Across the show floor, we heard comments from attendees about the words that Chef Seamus Mullen shared reminding us about the bigger “why” behind what we do. He described growing up on an organic farm in Vermont, which taught him from childhood the value of eating fresh produce. He also shared his grandmother’s wise words: “Trust your gut. You are what you eat.” We frequently extol the good of food that is grown, but Chef Seamus provided a poignant reminder of the vital impact of fresh produce on our health and well-being through his personal narrative. Thank you, Chef Seamus, for being an ally and working to make fresh produce an integral part of everyone’s life!
Starting the Day with Tasty Bites (And No Line!)
Nature Sweet's Breakfast Samples
Shout-out to Nature Sweet for their pre-show breakfast sample, which featured a savory “tomato-tot waffle” and bloody mary shooter. We loved this new twist on taking the product sampling experience out of the booth and into other high-traffic areas throughout the show. Located just past the ever-growing Starbucks line, this food sampling attraction got people talking about the brand before the show even began!
New Products Showcased at Viva Fresh Expo
Giorgio's Portabella Jerky
If you didn’t get to try Giorgio’s Savory Wild Portabella Jerky on the show floor, you missed out! This innovative approach to “jerky” not only provides a viable option for plant-based diets, but it is also a great grab-and-go snack for all diets.
Good Farms' Cold-Pressed Strawberry Juice
If you were feeling berry thirsty at the show, that was sure to be quenched by Cold-Pressed Strawberry Juice from Good Farms. We loved learning from the brand that they were inspired to find a use for berries that didn’t meet retailer specs—and that use just happened to be chock-full of strawberry flavor. Sharing their story of doing good is likely to help Good Farms resonate with Gen Z and millennial consumers, who want to be assured the brands in which they invest are making a positive impact and reducing food waste.
Sampling New Varieties
Our team was thrilled to visit the US Citrus booth and sample some fresh citrus varieties we hadn’t yet tried before. We walked away with two new favorite fruits: kumquats and finger limes. While we certainly love a tasty chef-made bite on the show floor, we also love when exhibitors share the simple fresh flavors of their products.
Booths with a Little Something More to Offer
The 10x10 Latin Specialties booth proved that small spaces don’t have to limit creativity. This display not only provided a visual for how bananas grow, it also was a sure-fire way to capture the attention of people walking the show floor. As we made our rounds, we saw people asking questions, coming in for a closer look, and taking pictures. (Of course, we had to join in on that one!)
The approach of “showing how they grow” was an all-around stand-out booth display tactic. We loved visiting the Kitchen Pride booth because we were able to learn first-hand how these mushrooms were grown—and actually see what these mushrooms look like when they’re growing! (The tasty mushroom-blend meatballs didn’t hurt either.)
Not only did the Marathon Mangos booth have one of the best “sips” on the show floor (we might have had a few of those mango margaritas), but they also managed to create a playful, colorful booth display that successfully captured the essence of the brand’s products. We especially enjoyed how their clear display shelves simply yet effectively showcased the various varieties and sizes of the fruit. Sometimes, less really is more.
Summer Citrus from South Africa
Summer Citrus from South Africa made a big splash by celebrating 20 years with a champagne toast on the show floor. With a beautiful speech from Suhanra Conradie, CEO, about Summer Citrus’ growth through the years and its future, the brand was able to draw in industry professionals, editors, and other passersby on the show floor with this fun, celebratory, and interactive experience.
The Aggies for Fresh Experience
Viva Fresh and Aggies for Fresh go hand-in-hand, and this year’s experience left us blown away yet again by the continued support. Through the invaluable partnership between the Texas International Produce Association and DMA Solutions, nine Texas A&M students attended this year’s Viva Fresh Expo. The 2019 Aggies for Fresh student scholarship recipients were exceptional, and had majors that varied from agribusiness, business, and journalism. Not only were the students poised and focused, they were also incredibly excited to get acquainted with the fresh produce industry (especially because many of them will soon enter the workforce). From the introductory luncheon to the last minute of the show, the Aggies felt welcomed, engaged, and appreciated.
The students attended educational sessions, walked the floor, and hosted the Aggies for Fresh reception, which offered industry professionals an opportunity to introduce themselves, recruit talent and help explain their role in the industry to these curious students. On behalf of DMA and these students, we’d like to give a Texas-sized "thank you" to the sponsors who made the reception possible! As the Aggies walked the trade show floor, industry representatives took the time to meet the students and answer their questions; we can say firsthand that this made a big impact on each student. The goal of Aggies for Fresh is to educate and inspire students to consider a career in fresh produce, and because of your continued support and welcoming arms, we are pleased to say that that mission was once again a success.
We are grateful to have shared the Viva Fresh experience with you. Remember, if you were unable to meet with the students and you’re looking for your next intern or new hire, start by downloading more information about each of the 2019 Aggies here.
Have insights from the show you'd like to add? Leave us a comment below, or reach out to us on Twitter @TheCoreBlog!