The International Floriculture Expo looked to Chicago and a collaboration with the United Fresh Produce Association to expand its foothold in the marketplace while creating the ultimate destination for produce and floral. The educational conference was held June 8 and exhibit hall was open June 9 & 10, 2015.
Christine Salmon, Event Manager of the International Floriculture Expo expressed a renewed sense of energy. “There are always risks associated with a new venue and a new partnership, but exhibitors and visitors are truly excited and impressed with the value of combining produce and floral. By the end, we were overwhelmed with the positive feedback and renewed 90% of space on-site for next year.”
The show brings together a targeted group of the industry’s highest-volume floral buyers. Hundreds of companies like 1-800-Flowers, Ahold, Albertson’s, Associated Wholesale Grocers, FTD, Publix, ProFlowers, Wegmans, and Target attend the event to see the latest product innovations, network with existing vendors, meet new suppliers, and to participate in the education program.
“We are very excited to have exceeded our key buyer attendance goals,” said Justin Childs, Marketing and Key Buyer Manager. “More than 250 key buyers attended this year, representing a 23% increase year over year. We saw several new faces, including Walgreens, which is a big draw for exhibitors.” Key buyers purchase floral for 20 or more retail locations.
Exhibiting vendors also expressed enthusiasm over the attendance, which was made up of a total of more than 1,300 total floral professionals.
Carmen Garcia of Monterey Bay Heather Coastal Nursery, a long-time exhibitor and supporter of the show, expressed very positive results for exhibiting. “We saw much more traffic than any recent year. We wrote over $700,000 in orders.”
Another highlight of the show was the education programming that occurred on June 8. Lora Burns, Conference Coordinator, shared feedback on education sessions, which were produced in partnership with burton + BURTON. “Rooms were packed and some of our sessions saw a 100% increase over last year’s. Hundreds of buyers and vendors expressed positive feedback on the programming and the keynote presentation by Susan Packard, co-founder of HGTV.
Pieter Landman, world-famous floral designer, emceed the 8th annual Iron Designer Competition. Nine floral designers competed, given 20 minutes to create a floral design incorporating this year’s theme, A Fusion of Produce and Floral. The theme celebrated the partnership with United Fresh and required the designers to use produce items.
“We’d like to thank our produce commodity sponsors for their participation in the Iron Designer Competition. We are inspired by the creativity put forth by the floral designers who ingeniously incorporated fruits and vegetables into their displays,” said United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel. “The dynamic arrangements are a true testament to the future of floral and product display trends.”
Ultimately it was Joe Lesczynski of Phillip’s Flowers who took home the coveted trophy and a cash prize.
Next year, the International Floriculture Expo will again take place with United Fresh at the McCormick Place in Chicago. The event will be held June 20-22, 2016. Companies looking to exhibit may contact Christine Salmon at [email protected].