United Fresh 2012 was a whirlwind of energy, innovation, information and connecting for the 4,500 who attended May 1-3.
It was standing room only when donors, United Fresh representatives and guests from a variety of Texas school districts were on hand for the announcement that the United Fresh Foundation had achieved its goal of raising enough money to implement 100 salad bars in 100 Texas schools. It was with additional excitement that Dan’l Mackey Almy, president of Irving, Texas-based DMA Solutions Inc., a key figure in helping achieve the Texas salad bars goal and United Fresh’s 2012 outstanding female industry leader, announced that HBO also is going to fund 100 more school salad bars across the country. (HBO recently created a documentary about the childhood obesity epidemic.) She also presented the challenge of raising enough support going forward to give 100 San Diego-area schools salad bars when United Fresh 2013 is held there one year from now.
They had to bring extra chairs into a packed ballroom for a speech by former first lady Laura Bush, who regaled the audience with anecdotes about her years in the White House and current work on behalf of women and children worldwide.
All of that reinforced the upbeat tone set by incoming United Fresh Chairman of the Board David Krause, who predicted a bright future for the produce industry when he addressed a general session of those attending May 1.
“Working for our collective good, as well as the prosperity of our individual businesses, we tackle the critical challenges facing our industry,” he said.
Many of those challenges were addressed throughout the show, with sessions that ranged from food safety and equipment to marketing and trends. Panel discussions and presentations in multiple venues inside the Dallas Convention Center were led by top researchers and experts.
“I was very impressed by the turnout of industry leaders from across the entire produce supply chain,” said Dave Dever, president and CEO, Sun World International.
And teaming up with FMI and AMI to put on one huge supershow only added to the value of the event, said John Toner, United’s vice president of convention and industry relations.
“The co-location of FMI and AMI with United Fresh brought together a broad cross-section of the food industry, which gave our members an enhanced opportunity for networking and learning,” Toner said. “For example, fresh-cut processors interacted and learned about food safety issues from meat companies, and vice versa. Also, with more and more produce becoming packaged, learning best practices from center store CPG companies helps our members develop more competitive packaging to attract consumers.”
Ray Connelly of TRUETRAC said it was a good opportunity to make connections.
“Being in a central location like Dallas made it easy for us to set up meetings with numerous clients,” he said. “We attended several of the educational sessions and had a fair amount of walk-up traffic at our booth.
“We’re looking forward to next year.”
Top new product winners announced
Top winners in five categories were announced as recipients of the 2012 New Product Awards at united Fresh 2012 in Dallas.
Best New Packaging Product: Naturipe earthcycle packaging for organic Berries, Naturipe LLC
Best New Food Safety Solution: Flashcheck real-time bacterial enzyme detection kit, DeltaTRAK inc.
Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: Bosch pack 301 IN inverted horizontal flow wrapper, Bosch Packaging Technology, inc.
Best New Fruit Product: Fresh Fruit parfaits in five flavors, Ready Pac Foods
Best New Vegetable Product: Delano, Mastronardi produce
The finalists in each category were on display during the United Fresh 2012 trade show. Winners were selected by popular votes of those attending United Fresh as well as the FMI and AMI shows.