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Viva Fresh delivers first in-person produce event

John Toner, left, Vice President of Convention and Industry Collaboration, talks with Dr. Ian Smith about his experience losing more than 100 pounds during the Viva Fresh Clean Eating Challenge. Toner and other industry members who participated in the challenge were in attendance at the Viva Fresh Expo in Grapevine, TX, March 26-27.

GRAPEVINE, TX—For the first in-person event in a year, the Texas International Produce Association’s Viva Fresh Expo had three key objectives: get people together — while addressing safety issues — and let them do business.

“So, really trying to figure out how we bring all three of those things together was the challenge,” said Dante Galeazzi, TIPA President and CEO. “But we started working on that in August. And I think we’ve seen that success here.”

About 1,300 people attended Viva Fresh, including about 175 buyers, a respectable crowd based on most of the show floor feedback.

“I was incredibly humbled by the comfort level of people getting around,” said Tommy Wilkins, director of sales for Grow Farms Texas “The floor was full, the interaction was incredible, and the support exceeded our expectations.”

The event included the annual Viva Fresh Open Golf Tournament, an opening reception, meet and greet breakfast, buyer “speed dating” style appointments, a keynote luncheon featuring the results of the second Viva Fresh Clean Eating Challenge, and a 5-hour expo.

Safety measures included mask requirements, physical distancing, including spacing 10×10 booths in 20×10 locations, color-coded badges for distancing comfort levels, half-capacity banquet tables with badge colors grouped together, and extra spaces provided for red and yellow badges at the opening reception.

Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.