The Viva Fresh Expo, hosted by the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA), will return to the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio from April 5-7, 2018. In its fourth year, the expo has consistently catered to sold out crowds and attracted buyers from major regional and national retailers.
The success of this regional event is due largely to the growing importance of Texas, Mexico, and the Rio Grande Valley that connects the two as a fast-growing produce production and transit epicenter. In 2016, TIPA established a Retail & Foodservice Advisory Board made up of 14 retail and foodservice contacts, to assist in guiding the direction of the Viva Fresh Expo. The advisory members have reinforced the significance of this region and cite its importance as a main factor in their attendance and involvement with the expo.
“We’ve seen increased attendance from retail and foodservice buyers from companies including H-E-B, Walmart and US Foods, and 100% of our surveyed retailers say the expo meets their business needs.” remarked Dante Galeazzi, President and CEO of TIPA, Galeazzi continued, “Since we know this region is a main focus for attendees, we’ve increased our outreach to include more regional growers and revamped our exhibitor list so the majority of exhibitors will be from Texas, Mexico, and the Southwest United States.”
In 2016, approximately half of fresh fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico entered the U.S. through Texas land ports. That’s $5.4 billion worth of produce—or over 220,000 truckloads. Fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico are growing at an astounding rate: from 2007-2015 alone, imports from our neighbors to the south have more than doubled with an eye-popping 107% growth rate.
“I’ve been impressed with the Viva Fresh Expo year after year,” says Joseph Bunting, Produce Business Director at United Supermarkets and Advisory Board member. “It’s a true regional event and showcases Texas and Mexico as a commanding force for high quality, year-round fresh produce. I always look forward to Viva Fresh to strengthen current relationships, make new connections, and stay up on all the regional trends.”
As a rapidly growing food safety culture develops in the Rio Grande Valley, it becomes more important than ever to champion initiatives and ensure that best practices are not only adopted but advanced. As part of the Viva Fresh educational seminar program, attendees can experience a virtual tour of a field, a packing house and quality control measures to learn more about best in class food safety and how leading Mexican suppliers are raising the bar on food safety standards. Other educational sessions will tackle industry challenges such as the multi-generational marketplace and how Amazon impacts the future of retail sales and marketing.
Registration is now open for exhibitors and sponsors at www.vivafreshexpo.com. Plan to register early as exhibits and sponsorship opportunities in years past have sold out, with a long waiting list thereafter. Registration for most retail and foodservice buyers is free and a travel stipend is provided.