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Following yesterday's announcement by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) that it is cancelling its signature 2017 FMI Connect show, United Fresh reiterated its plans to keep its show - which was to be co-located with FMI Connect - open and operating next June 13-15 in Chicago.

FMI said yesterday that it had concluded in the months since the 2016 event that it is "not the right formula" with which to go forward, citing declining attendee numbers owing to consolidation and economic realities.

Tom Stenzel, president/CEO of United Fresh, released a prepared statement noting that "in recent years, it’s become abundantly clear that fresh produce and fresh foods are driving so much of the consumer experience in retail, restaurants and multiple new delivery channels.  We’ve seen that growth in the United Fresh Marketplace and FreshTech expos, as both our exhibitor community and buyer attendees have continued to grow each year."

"The combination of our shows," Stenzel said, pointing to the United Fresh, International Floriculture Expo and the Global Cold Chain Expo events, "offers wholesale, retail, foodservice and other food marketing channels an unparalleled experience to see, taste and touch the new products that are driving consumer success with fresh foods, produce and floral products."

In a comment to MNB, Stenzel said that he remains upbeat: "We actually attracted more attendees than FMI last year, so are pretty confident where our future is.  We will be continuing to grow significantly this year, in the fresh foods, produce, floral and technology space."
KC's View:
One of the things I wrote yesterday in our breaking news alert about the FMI cancellation was that "to those of us who attended the 2016 show, this does not come as an enormous surprise, since the diminishing returns were obvious in the low traffic that seemed to be walking the show floor."

It must be pointed out, along the same lines, that the exact opposite was true of the United Fresh show. It was just across the hall in McCormick Place, and yet the contrast was stark - the aisles were busy and energized, and when I'd go to booths like, say, Frieda's, there was a sense of innovation and business being done. And that was pretty much throughout the sales floor, where the samples were ample and everybody seemed to be having a good time.

I can remember thinking to myself that when the FMI folks looked across the hall, they had to wonder what, exactly, they were doing wrong ... or maybe, wonder how and why the business had shifted or how they missed the signs.

I'm not sure the FMI Connect cancellation will have no impact on United Fresh, since there's something to be said for the advantages of co-location. But then again, if I'm right about what I wrote yesterday about the advantages of being more targeted, with a greater ability to define return-on-investment, United Fresh is well positioned. (I continue to believe that FMI ought to think about bringing back its Meal Solutions and MarkeTechnics shows in some form. They might be able to capitalize on the same trends in those categories that has been driving United Fresh ... and, by the way, some other more targeted shows.)