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FPAA Inaugural Expo Proves Fruitful For Buyers, Exhibitors

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The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas recently concluded its inaugural expo, an enhancement to the FPAA Convention, which was held for the 54th consecutive year.

Known as the Southwest International Produce Expo, the gathering drew more than 500 attendees, buyers and exhibitors Nov. 2-4 to the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Arizona. 

Over the course of three days, buyers, growers, distributors and allied industry partners attended educational sessions, networking events, an awards reception and multiple outdoor activities, including retail store tours and golf and tennis tournaments. 

“We’re very pleased with the success of our first expo, alongside our annual conference, that brought together buyers, sellers and growers for an elevated experience in the Southwest,” said Lance Jungmeyer, FPAA president. 

“With the richness and diversity of our region and industry on display, SWIPE provided an intimate opportunity for trade partners to come together for quality business development and networking.”

The event kicked off Nov. 2 with the Opening Fiesta, a culinary celebration of the bounty and culture of the Southwest.

Nov. 3 began with a half-day of education sessions that addressed challenging supply chain topics ranging from unforeseen disruptions such as weather to labor and policy. Other topics included delivering value across customer tiers presented by a panel of industry buyers and understanding the opportunities for women in the produce industry.

The SWIPE expo opened following the education sessions, with a show floor whose ratio of exhibiting companies to buyers was one-to-one.

“As FPAA chairman, the inaugural SWIPE exhibition exceeded my expectations,” said Rod Sbragia, VP of sales, Crown Jewels Produce.

“From the energy on the show floor, excitement for our Southwest region on display during the networking events, and outdoor activities, it was a pleasure to host the industry for this year’s event, and I look forward to next year’s event to be held at the JW Marriott Resort at Starr Pass.”

SWIPE concluded with a golf and tennis tournament where Andy Hamilton and Dave Yeager took first place in the two-man golf scramble, followed by second-place performers Kyle McGrath and Scott Kosnik.

In the four-man golf scramble, the first-place team featured Jamie Waltmire, Javier Badillo, Alex Parra and Alex Parra Jr. Coming in second was the team of Otilio Garavito, Nelson Garza and Jon Greco; and third place went to the team of Patrick Mills, Luis Gonzalez, Tony Mitchell and Erick Chistensen.

Rex Lawrence won the inaugural tennis tournament, followed by Santiago Astengo in second place.

Prior to the expo, FPAA held its annual meeting during which Emilia Gotsis of Omega Produce Company was honored as the 2023 Pillar of the Industry, and FPAA chairwoman-elect Raquel Espinoza of Produce House was named the FPAA 2023 Member of the Year.

About Fresh Produce Association of the Americas

Founded in 1944 in Nogales, Arizona, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas provides a voice for improvement and sustainability by serving the needs of more than 100 North American companies involved in the growth, harvest, marketing, import and distribution of produce.

Read more produce news from The Shelby Report.

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Sommer Stockton

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Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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