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Are you ready for Viva Fresh 2019?


I’m about to hit the road for my third fresh produce conference in the past four weeks. Instead of being road weary, I’m excited — because it’s one of my favorites.

Perhaps that’s because Viva Fresh is in my back yard, just an hour and a half down the road in San Antonio. But I think it’s also a great opportunity I think the fresh produce industry was missing.

I’ve been covering the produce gig in Texas for a while now and have been back in the Austin area permanently since 2007. What used to be a fantastic get-together of friends and business associates – the Texas Produce Convention – has bloomed into much more thanks to the dedication vision and dedication of the steering committee and hard work by the Texas International Produce Association staff.

Being so close to home has meant some unique opportunities for me when it comes to Viva Fresh, from working with the hotel chefs to ensure the food featured the best of what’s grown in Texas, the Southwest and Mexico, to scouting golf courses and helping find beneficiaries for the Viva Fresh Open Golf Tournament.

But what I really love is that the organizers have always pushed the envelope. One year we had live crews presenting from onion and watermelon fields. Just last week they added a session to discuss the ultra-hot Tomato Suspension Agreement and what it will mean for the market.

Content covers a range of topics, from imports and border issues to food safety and wellness through fresh produce consumption, a key mission for Jimmy Bassetti of J&D Produce, Edinburg, one of the core founders of Viva Fresh.

The Viva Fresh Open is another example of not-just-another-golf-tournament. I mean, we’re playing at a course that hosted a PGA Tour event just a few weeks ago, and the 19th Hole celebration features live music and games — and is open to all Viva Fresh attendees.

Is golf not your thing? Then you should sign up for a tour of the new San Antonio Wholesale Produce Market. It opened in 2016 and is unlike any other I’ve seen.

Have you heard of Aggies for Fresh? This group of students is getting exposure to the business and opportunity of the fresh produce industry – and they’re motivated. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the group DMA Solutions brings to Viva Fresh, not only in their go-get-em (or gig ‘em?) attitude, but also with their follow-through after the show. Want to learn more about Aggies for Fresh? Click here.

And guess what? I haven’t even gotten to the Expo Day, Saturday, April 27.

Catch the food sensory pop-up demos from 9:15 to 10:45. I had my first experience with Everything but the Bagel Seasoning on Avocado Toast, along with a sublime mango smoothie there last year. I can’t wait to see what they come up with this year. The expo hall is open from 11:30 to 4. Catch my colleagues Frank Sanchez and Carlos Sanchez at Booth 93. Here’s a link to the expo map to find us.

See y’all April 25-27 at the J.W. Marriott Hill Country Resort & Spa.


Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.