It’s hard to believe that we’ve completed our industry’s first ever, never-done-before virtual tradeshow. To say that this week and the past month leading up to it was filled with FFTs (What’s an FFT? give this a listen) would be an understatement. But here we are, at the end of our first virtual tradeshow experience with tired eyes instead of sore feet and deserving of a “Zoom Expert” certificate.
Looking back on the week, the experience was encouraging and well done! We had the opportunity to connect, see one other’s faces and/or exhibits, and stretch ourselves as marketers and communicators to make the most of not knowing how to manage through a tradeshow like this. As a result, virtual tradeshows, at least SOME element of them whether small or supplementary, are likely here to stay. And, to put it bluntly, we’re ok with it!
When we first heard about the decision by United Fresh to make this year’s show virtual, like many of you we were unsure of what this would mean or how it would all turn out in the end. We’re a people-focused industry! How can we create the same connections virtually?
Once we connected with the United Fresh team to learn about what was in store, we were motivated and excited to encourage other marketers to do yet another PIVOT! And give this thing a try. And, WOW. Let’s all take a moment to send United Fresh a big THANK YOU for their efforts in pulling off the seemingly impossible in such a short amount of time. While technology certainly threw its fair share of hiccups at all of us along the way, the United Fresh Team worked countless hours to give all of us the opportunity to come together this week. Bravo, team!
Before we dive into the highlights of the show, we want to make sure to present an important ask to each of you. Since United Fresh so graciously made the show free to all of us to attend and based on the valuable interaction we have had this week, our team feels motivated to give back. DMA will be donating $100 per team member to the United Fresh Power Fund for our team members that attended (all of us!) and matching that amount with a gift to the United Fresh Start Foundation because of the incredible work they’re doing to help people in need in response to COVID-19.Think about it, if everyone in our industry that attended the event donated $100, we keep our association healthy and compensate them for their efforts to keep us connected and informed.
Here’s What Blew Us Away at The Expo
We were quite impressed by the virtual booth design greatness across the show floor! We had the pleasure of assisting with the creation of several virtual booths, and knowing the limitations we were incredibly impressed to see unique approaches and creativity across the show floor. Here are a few stand outs:
Braga Fresh not only did a great job displaying the company’s brand, they also offered a clever Virtual Tour of The Ranch Barn for booth visitors to explore, offering a one of a kind experience at United Fresh LIVE.
Seriously, how cool is this?
It’s safe to say that Bright Farms brought us one of the most inviting and friendly booths on the tradeshow “floor!” From the cheerfulness of the opening video to the overall design, this booth is a true reflection of the Bright Farms brand - mission accomplished!
The Chelan Fresh team made a fantastic use of color in their virtual booth, and we loved their use of the “welcome image” to catch your attention during a live event. With a strategically placed arrow, they did a fantastic job of calling out when they were “live” in the booth, something we didn’t see many others do!
Duda Farm Fresh Foods
If you can’t see people in person, invite them to a virtual booth tour! This is how the team at Duda Farm Fresh Foods approached the tradeshow and featured this message throughout the week utilizing branding space within the booth to showcase it. We were also blown away by the detailed information available in the tab for booth visitors to explore. Whether a retail or foodservice buyer visited the booth, Duda was ready with the proper assets.
Gold Coast Packing
Clean, sophisticated and branded to a “T”, we were refreshed to see the team at Gold Coast Packing show up in a way that made you want to stop and learn more.
The moment you enter the booth your attention is grabbed by the trademark colors (orange and black) that have become so well known in the fresh produce industry and amongst shoppers today. The team at Grimmway Farms displays a beautiful video upon entry and offers a custom landscape in the background to make us feel like we’re standing in the booth.
Flavorville in a virtual world has never been more electric than at the SUNSET booth! From the captivating music to actual photos of the SUNSET team greeting you to the booth, we were blown away by the creativity and expect nothing less from this fierce trade brand.
Making the Most of “Live Events”
We may not be together in person, but that didn’t stop exhibitors from hosting an array of live events and experiences from live field tours, to webinars, and cooking demos in their virtual booths! Here are some of the great live events we experienced during the show:
Bowery’s Happy Hours and Sensory Experiences
Who says you can’t educate and have fun at the same time? In addition to their stellar booth, Bowery served up a full schedule of live events including a celebratory happy hour to kick off the show, a sensory experience with their products, and educational food safety content. We love this engaging lineup!
Duda Farm Fresh Foods “VIR-TOUR-ALL” Field Tours
The team at Duda served up some amazing live content throughout the show, including live tours of their fresh cut facility in Oxnard and fields in Salinas, CA. The content was incredibly informative and we found ourselves learning something new despite having been in the fields before! To top it off, the Duda brought school foodservice professionals a chance to earn a “Certified Education Unit” by attending a live training session with Chef Todd Fisher and The Produce Moms! This content was an engaging and helpful substitute for content this group would normally engage with in person during the Festival for School Foodservice. Way to lead the way for more fruits and veggies in schools, Duda!
Ocean Mist Farms Webinar
Diana McClean hosted The Power of Artichoke Marketing & Artichoke Field Tour by Phil Barrientos. During the webinar, Diana shared proprietary data and information about what inspires consumer engagement on Ocean Mist Farms’ online communities and how the brand uses marketing to drive sales of artichokes. See the purple artichokes behind Phil? Nice work!
California Avocado Commission’s Daily Presentations
The California Avocado Commission didn’t hold back in terms of daily educational content. We were impressed to see CAC offer daily Zoom sessions featuring an array of content from foodservice research, to their approach to engaging consumers, to walking through how to access retailer resources on their website. This is the kind of content that gives visitors a reason to come to your virtual booth every day during the show - brilliant!
Domex Superfresh Growers
The Superfresh team took advantage of Instagram to host live tours and events on the social media platform each day as a part of United Fresh LIVE! The brand was able to create content to entertain both customers and consumers alike, making Instagram a great fit to get double the engagement for the event! These events included recipe demos from influencer partners like Nutrition by Mia, as well as cherry orchard and blueberry field tours with Superfresh growers and horticulturists who were on deck ready to answer the audience’s questions about growing and harvesting.
We were happy to host a live discussion in our very own booth at United Fresh LIVE! and were encouraged to see over 60 produce professionals register. Marketing requires discussion - especially with our current landscape - and we felt it necessary to lead the effort. Our president and CEO, Dan’l Mackey Almy, guided us on “Marketing in Sensitive Times” which yielded thoughtful questions and commentary. During her presentation, Dan’l offered businesses direction on navigating communications on COVID-19 and the civil rights movement. For marketers that manage content for a brand, this is a must-see replay (password: 6u$15k9L).
New or “Pitchable” Products
We’re always on the hunt for what we call “pitchable” products when we head into a tradeshow. This week we weren’t dissapointed! Even with the virtual format, several brands chose United LIVE! As the perfect platform and place to unveil their new products to the world.
Here's a selection of the top-notch pitchable products we discovered at the 2020 United Fresh LIVE!:
Ocean Mist Farms’ Purple Artichokes
Viola is in town! Ocean Mist Farms just introduced their newest PURPLE artichoke variety, at both United Fresh LIVE! and via their summer promotion. This NEW, colorful, seasonal artichoke variety from the artichoke experts is a limited time product. During Ocean Mist’s expo hours, their team took us on a field visit to see these beauties “in the wild”. We’re a little biased, because we’ve already had a taste test, these ‘chokes are next level in flavor!
Taylor Farms’ New Chopped Salad Kit Flavors
Leaning into trendy flavors like “dill pickle” and “everything”, Taylor Farms has upped their Organic Chopped Salad Kit game! These new kits expand their popular line of grab-and-go options, and just in time to enjoy this summer. In addition, they’ve also launched two new Earthbound Farm Organic Kits: Honey Mustard and Classic Caesar. We’ll be picking up a whole lotta salad on our next grocery run!
CeCe’s Veggie Co’s NEW Cauli Options
The team at CeCe’s Veggie Co were gracious hosts to the DMA team - even virtually! We were so happy to scroll on over to check out the brand’s newest indulgences including Cauli & Cheese and Buffalo Cauli. Buffalo Cauli is a hot twist on a finger-licking, fan favorite. The Cauli & Cheese is a new take on a classic with all the cheesy flavor at a fraction of the carbs and calories. These keto-friendly, Whole30 approved items are going to be on every consumer’s shopping list! Can’t you just taste them now? Yum!
Melissa’s #HatchatHome Toolkit
Due to new COVID regulations Melissa’s is expecting people to roast hatch chiles at home this year, so they created a unique new tool kit to help facilitate at home roasting inspiration for shoppers! As a part of the toolkit launch with hatch chiles this season, Melissa’s will host a photo contest where people can share their #HatchAtHome photos to be entered to win some great prizes.
Naturipe Farms’ Bliss Bentos Snack Packs
The NEW Naturipe Farms “Bliss Bentos” snack packs combine “fresh-picked fruit with delicious specialty ingredients in one portable package”. They are a perfectly paired treat that nourishes with flavor, fiber and iron at snack time or dessert. These snack packs are available in 4 flavor combos, and no doubt they’ll be in high demand come back to school!
Bowery’s Crispy Leaf
A double shout out for Bowery, because this modern indoor farming company chose the United Fresh LIVE! show to debut their latest and highly anticipated product: Crispy Leaf! This reinvigorated version of iceberg lettuce is refreshing, simple, and adds bold color to salads and dishes that we know shoppers and foodservice professionals alike are going to love.
Bay Baby’s Direct-to-Consumer Boxes
After a peek in the Bay Baby Produce booth, we’re ready for a Pumpkin Spice Latte! Their newest offering heading into the fall, are direct to consumer boxes with 2 stock options: organic squash mix and ornamental. These boxes are grab-and-go ready for Fall Harvest decorating and baking!
Now that we’ve wrapped up our first virtual expo, there’s a couple of great things to look forward to:
- Because the show is virtual, the expo is available for you to access for several more months! That’s right - you can access sessions, workshops, AND continue to visit people’s booths throughout the summer months.
- Next year, United Fresh will take place April 21 - 23 in Los Angeles, CA. We don’t know what the future holds so who knows? Next year's show could be a hybrid in-person and virtual event, but the April date means we will (hopefully) come together even sooner in 2021!
As our other industry associations determine next steps for remaining 2020 shows, we can expect that some form of virtual exhibits will be the norm. We can help you prepare a strategy and a plan to look your best for virtual shows come your way - contact us to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And while we were blown away by these exhibits and products on the show floor, we were equally as blown away by the educational content United Fresh served up throughout the week. Be sure and take a look at our post covering What Blew Us Away at United Fresh LIVE: Education Sessions!