What Blew Us Away (#WBUA) at Southern Exposure 2020

If you had the pleasure of attending Southern Exposure last weekend in Tampa, FL, you know how beneficial and plentiful the show was for all.  For those who live north of the Mason Dixon, the warm and sunny weather in Tampa was the icing on the cake.  As we embraced the opportunity to meet with our clients and enjoy time with long-time friends and new, we returned home feeling full of excitement and hope for an immeasurably excellent year for the fresh produce industry.  Here’s what blew us away this year at Southern Exposure 2020:

SEPC’s New Look

From the minute attendees stepped foot into the Tampa convention center, you couldn’t miss the refreshed look!  The thorough launch of the new logo was created to reflect the future of the council while staying true to SEPC’s mission and purpose.  It was an honor to collaborate with SEPC to bring their new identity to life and we couldn’t be more proud of the reactions that both the council and our team have received as a result.  On show day, we were so happy to see David Sherrod wearing the new logo from head to toe!  


Southern Exposure Programming/Education

STARS Breakfast and Program

We were honored to take part in and speak to the student participants of the STARS breakfast on Friday morning in Tampa now for our 3rd year! Our President & CEO, Dan’l Mackey Almy, spoke with students elaborating on our industry and emphasizing how fulfilling a career in fresh produce can be.  We continue to be humbled by the Southeast Produce Council’s eagerness to attract and retain talent in our industry and are grateful to be involved.


Power of Produce Session

The name of this data-packed session perfectly describes the level of information we received as attendees. Along with a panel of retailers and data presented by FMI’s VP of Fresh, Rick Stein and Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal of 210 Analytics, we left feeling validated in our approach to help fresh produce brands increase demand of their products and services when we read these statistics:

  • $60.8B produce sold in 2019DMA_WBUA_SouthernExposure_Meal-Inspo
  • Sales growth has slowed but produce’s share of store perimeter sales increased +$3.7B since 2015
  • Social media inspired shoppers eat and shop differently seeking more value-added products, information about growing practices and are more likely to use vegetables as a protein and/or carbohydrate
  • 79% of shoppers plan and list out produce purchases pre-trip
  • 43% of produce sales is largely sold on merchandising
    • 68% check produce specials across different stores
    • 82% check produce specials at one main store
  • 54% of shoppers use in-store promotions to make purchasing decisions more than any other medium
  • 64% of GREAT in-store promotions can drive impulse produce purchases  



Southern Roots Luncheon

Once again we were delighted to have the opportunity to be present for the Southern Roots luncheon, an event imagined and brought to life by our friends Terry Miller and Stephanie Hilton. During this event, we had the great pleasure to learn from award-winning motivational speaker, Colette Carlson, who empathized with “every woman’s” plight to juggle it all (home, work, family, friends, etc.)  and because of this, we often lose time for real connection.  By the end of the session, we were feeling motivated and ready to “make a difference” in our own lives as well as others!

Awards, Recognition and CharityFaye

When it comes to “Making a Difference”, celebrating those who have dedicated their careers to the fresh produce industry is a great spectacle showcased by SEPC.  Long-time friend of DMA’s, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa received a beautiful bouquet of red roses and a Lifetime Membership Award.  The surprise on her face was priceless and so has her service to the council.  

We were so happy when our friend Rick Estess, Russet Potato Exchange (RPE) received the Terry Vorhees Lifetime Achievement Award, the council’s highest honor. Under his leadership, programs like STEP-UPP have made an ongoing positive impact on the council.

In the theme of “Making a Difference”, Brandon Parker of Shuman Farms and this year’s SEPC Chairman presented $25,000 checks through SEPC Cares to five deserving organizations and causes, including a sixth one on behalf of the late Frieda Rapoport Caplan, raising a total of $1.1 million in donations over the years.  Making a difference?  You can say that again! Thank you, SEPC!


Keynote Speaker, Tony Dungy

This year’s keynote speaker has certainly made a difference in the lives of others. Tony Dungy is a former professional football player and coach in the NFL.  As a leader and Super Bowl winning coach, Dungy motivated attendees with his strategy for leading people to become champions.

DMA_WBUA_SouthernExposure_QuoteNo doubt Dungy made a difference in many people’s lives and continues today through his work as a leader to young people, athletes and his community.

Tony Dungy

Expo Highlights

We want to be sure and give a big shout out to the team at SEPC for planning a great show floor experience!  From the snacking stations and conveniently located bars to the ample seating and meeting space, we were pleased to be on the show floor on Saturday for the show.  Next year, we recommend that the team consider adding row markers down each aisle of the show floor and row by row for easier floor navigation.  Otherwise, it is perfection! 


Products we LoVeD

From a products perspective, we found the cutest and most convenient squeeze bottle of guacamole at the Curation Foods booth!  The fine folks at Fyffes are sure to have a successful pineapple season with their clever shippers for display.  And when it comes to citrus, Sumo is all the rage!  With brightly colored merchandising and a unique fruit shape, these oranges are in season and ready to sweeten your day.

Curation Farms Fyffes Pineapple Display Sumo

Smells Like Team Spirit 

The Mardi Gras spirit across the show floor was contagious and on display in booths.  Teams from Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Daves Specialty Imports and the team from DiMare Produce were ready to let the good times roll.

Duda Daves Team DiMare Produce


Creative In-Booth Marketing

Other exhibitors found creative ways to attract attendees to their booths including Monterey Mushrooms who passed out prescriptions for Vitamin D, Melon 1 had the most amazing Mukimono artwork on display and WP Rawl handed out marketing collateral fit for a presidential nominee.

Monterey Mushroom Melon 1 WP Rawl

Illuminated Graphics

Our friends from Southern Specialties and Avocados from Mexico hosted the brightest booths on the show floor and we don’t hate it!  If you’re looking to stand out, talk to these marketers about their revolutionary back lit displays.

Southern Specialities Avos from Mexico


Core Reader Appreciation

Just when you think your work isn’t noticed or making a difference, we were so pleased to see and meet Core readers throughout the show! From SEPC’s David Sherrod, to Tom Lange’s Stephanie Hilton and Steve Pinkston of Sun Valley International, King Fresh’s Tosha Roberts, Earth Fresh’s Libby Massey and Cal Giant’s Morgan Maitoza, you all make us blush with pride that you read our words each week. Thank you!

Danl Mackey Almy_David Sherrod Stephanie Hilton and Steve Pinkston King Fresh Produce

If you missed the event, never fear!  Our friends at And Now U Know and Produce News have great show recaps with more highlights.  Ready to plan for the fall show season?  It is time to start planning for Southern Innovations hosted in Savannah, GA on September 17 – 19.


Feel like your team could use a little additional social expertise on your side in 2020? Check out our wealth of social media posts on The Core, or reach out to us for a free marketing consultation.