HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Produce distributor Richter and Co. helped to spread the word about buying regionally during the Southern Exposure conference, the Southeast Produce Council’s annual expo for the retail and foodservice industry.
The event in Hollywood, Florida, held March 3-5, drew record-setting attendance for the fifth straight year. At least 278 grower-shippers, distributors, marketers and others displayed their products during the expo. Industry insiders said turnout, which has climbed steadily over the last several years, was not a total surprise because The Southeast has become an increasingly important center for agricultural, retail and food service growth.
The conference moved this year to the beachside Diplomat Resort & Spa in south Florida, a new venue for the annual event. And in 2017, it moves again to Walt Disney World Dolphin resort in Orlando to accommodate continuous record crowds and exhibitors because the numbers climb steadily each year.
Exhibitors often use the expo as a launching pad for new products and a base for announcing exclusive industry news. A major highlight of this year’s event was the introduction of Generation Farms, a new label marketed by Richter and Co. Among produce businesses on the East Coast, Generation Farms is the largest grower, processor, packer and shipper of carrots and sweet onions. It also grows sweet potatoes, green beans, bell peppers, berries and watermelons.
Generation Farms came to fruition when Cotton Wood Agriculture acquired Stanley Farms and Coggins Farms, two legendary produce families. With both families on one team now, Generation Farms is positioning itself as a catalyst for industry change. Part of its mission is to elevate to best in class food quality, safety and sustainability. With farmland now spread across Georgia and Florida, Generation also is positioning itself as the best alternative to West Coast produce, while holding to its promise to act as a good steward of the environment.
The scope of the merger made it a natural to unveil at Southern Exposure. The event draws members of the produce industry to connect, learn and gain a fresh perspective from retailers, growers, food service distributors and wholesalers.
Richter and Co. has participated in the Southern Exposure since it began. The company distributes peaches, tomatoes, strawberries, bell peppers, blackberries, sweet potatoes and Vidalia onions to food chains across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Today, it represents growers in Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Florida and Michigan. And its longevity, dating back to 1927, has helped it to become one of the world’s largest peach distributors and a major shipper of Vidalia onions.
As a member of the Southeast Produce Council, Richter and Co. helps promote the consumption of locally grown fruits and vegetables in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.
The concept is known throughout the industry as buying regionally. Produce purchased seasonally and regionally means that, in most cases, it can be prepared and served within 48 hours of harvest. The result is healthier communities and customers. Buying regionally also ensures the sustainability of family farms, a familiar way of life for those who live in the Southeast.