Spartan-Hosted ‘Fresh Experience’ Sells Out
In the food industry, everyone’s looking for the next hot product and the newest food trend. But where does this all originate? What sparks a trend, captures a palate, alters our diet—and kitchen habits—and launches a new (or improved) food product?
Long before products hit the grocers’ shelves, thousands of hours of research, agricultural engineering, recipe revisions, taste tests, focus groups and packaging design culminate in the ultimate of trade shows. Food brokers and vendors, and millions of dollars in food orders are generated. And when it comes to fresh products, the spotlight shines on Grand Rapids, Mich., and A Fresh Experience 2012.
Spartan Stores, the nation’s 10th largest grocery distributor and Michigan’s only grocery wholesaler/retailer supplying more than 450 locations, hosted North America’s premier fresh merchandising show at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids on Thursday. The event was sold out, with 280 brokers and vendors packing DeVos Place (up from 156 and the 2009 inaugural event), managing 160,000 s.f. of food displays, including:
• Deli: featuring specialty cheese from Atlanta Foods, Fresh Selections meat, cheeses and salads;
• Produce and Floral: featuring summer seasonal items, Made in Michigan, new color wave program;
• Meat and Seafood: featuring Superior Seafood Chef, Fresh Selections pork, samples;
• Guests: 2012 Michigan Apple Queen, Fox Sports Detroit Promo Girls, Fox Sports booths with Jimmy Howard and Craig Monroe; and
• Samples: more than 90 servers handed out samples for attendees to try.
According to Alan Hartline, Spartan Stores EVP of merchandising and marketing, “The market is exploding with new products and strategies catering to consumers’ needs for convenience, value, nutrition and health; and this show is the premier place to sample the products and place advance, first to market orders. A Fresh Experience 2012 combined the ultimate in attractive, state-of-the art food displays, fresh deli, meat, seafood, bakery, floral and produce products, taste testing, and on-site ordering capabilities via 80 computer stations with the added benefit of meeting vendors and getting firsthand knowledge of new product launches.”
The show draws national attention to Grand Rapids. More than 400 hotel rooms were reserved to accommodate vendors, brokers and nearly 2,000 attendees from throughout the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, West Michigan is benefiting via donations to Access of West Michigan, Kid’s Food Basket, and Spectrum Health Continuing Care. In the last three years Spartan Stores and vendors have donated more than 150,000 pounds of fresh products to local West Michigan food banks.