The third annual Southern Innovations Organics & Foodservice Expo is set for Sept. 12-14 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Southeast Produce Council’s three-day event features networking, innovation, community and education.
The weekend will commence Thursday morning with the SEPC’s newly integrated RECIPE session for its foodservice members, featuring teams of industry experts and guest chefs. That afternoon, the Southern Roots Luncheon will provide ladies within the industry an interactive presentation by Shasta Nelson, a friendship expert whose programs teach how to create healthier, more fulfilling relationships in our lives. That evening, everyone is invited to unite for the welcome reception , which includes live entertainment from country music singer/songwriter Daniel E. Johnson.
A day of networking and education is planned for Friday, beginning with two educational sessions. The first, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Organics But Were Afraid to Ask,” will feature a variety of panelists displaying the wide assortment of challenges in organics. During the second session, “Avocado to Zucchini: Trending Produce in Foodservice,” SEPC members will learn from a panel about which produce items are up and coming in foodservice, which items have grown and which items have hit market proliferation. The sessions will be followed by the general session and keynote luncheon, where attendees will receive a brief State of the Council update, which will include the presentation of the graduating STEP-UPP Class and the Next Generation Award. The keynote address will be given by Steve Robinson, former EVP and CMO of Chick-fil-A.
Once members have received an overture of educational sessions, they’ll join the exhibitors for the Organics & Foodservice Expo featuring innovative products, live music and more. The Chairman’s Dinner Dance is planned that evening, with dinner and dancing while attendees celebrate the leadership of the council. The evening will include the SEPC Board of Directors Service Awards and the ceremonial passing of the gavel, culminating with entertainment by American country music singer and songwriter, Chris Lane.
On Saturday, the conference changes tempo for a day of networking fun. Members can play at the Founders Memorial Golf Tournament, test their aim with sporting clays or see the sites during the Franklin Experience. Meals will be provided at all activities. Then, there will be an encore performance of the Ultimate Tailgate Experience kicking off that afternoon.
After last year’s conference, the SEPC is anticipating an even greater response from members, especially with its now sold-out exhibitor space. All events will take place at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, apart from Saturday’s activities.
David Sherrod, SEPC president and CEO, said of the third annual Southern Innovations Organics & Foodservice Expo: “We are really excited to be back in Nashville this year. We have assembled an all-star lineup of industry experts to share with us the hottest new trends in both the Organic and Foodservice sectors. We also have two great keynote speakers in Steve Robinson and Shasta Nelson. We will learn from them that success is always determined in how we treat others and how we want to be treated. We have added our RECIPE Roadshow to the front end of the conference to provide educational opportunities for local foodservice end-users. This engaging session will utilize corporate chefs as experts describe the handling and preparation of the four major produce items used in the hospitality sector today.
“Our expo floor has grown about 15 percent over last year, and we are expecting 250 retail, foodservice, and wholesale Buyers representing the best of the produce industry,” Sherrod continued. “This will truly be an intimate setting with meaningful conversation for those in attendance. We will also have several wonderful opportunities to network at the Founders Memorial Golf Tournament, Nashville Gun Club Sporting Clays Tournament, the historic tour of Franklin, Tennessee and the Ultimate Tailgate Experience—all taking place on Saturday. Last, but not least, we will be treated to some of the best from the Nashville music scene (and maybe even a few from the produce industry!). Chris Lane and his band will headline our Chairman’s Dinner Dance on Friday night. We also hear there may be a few ‘star’ appearances as well.”