ORLANDO, Fla. -- The United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association's 1997 convention, its first to focus primarily on grower-shippers, fared better than expected, officials with the Alexandria, Va.-based trade group told SN a week after the event had wrapped up here.
United representatives said the association was pleased with the results of the convention, even though attendance and exhibition numbers were lower than in 1996, when the venue was New Orleans.
Industry eyes were on the convention, which was held Feb. 22 to 24, since United said this show would reflect its new strategy of primarily serving the needs of its grower-shipper membership.
"We were happy," said Sarah DeLea, vice president of communications for United. She said attendance reached 4,500 at the convention, which was down from last year's 5,500, but exceeded United's own expectations of between 3,000 and 3,500 for the Orlando meeting.
DeLea said the workshop portion of the convention was well attended and apparently successful at targeting the crucial issues.
This year's number of exhibitors, 242, was down slightly from last year, DeLea said, but there were more exhibitors on the floor that were representative of the association's new focus, which is to cater first and foremost to the needs and concerns of produce suppliers.
"They were the type of exhibitor we needed," she concluded. She said 116 of the exhibitors had not been on the trade show floor the year before, and 100 were attending a United show for the first time.