International Floriculture Expo / United Fresh Fruit 2015, Chicago, photo Review

The first question I get asked, after hello, at nearly every convention I attend is;

“What do you think of the show?”

I only can answer this question after I have talked to enough exhibitors to form a valid opinion. It did not take me long too decide my answer this year.

So I declare that this show was: “Big, Busy with Bodies and Buyers in the Building.”

Chicago in the summer time is not the scary place us Floridians think about when we look north so I was pleasantly reminded that that this old city has much to offer.

For a little history, The IFE show was originally called the Superfloral Show back in the 90’s and like today it catered to the Mass Market.  The show has bounced around to a few different cities after a four year run in Miami.  After last years’ show in New Orleans the show management decided to merge the show with the larger United Fresh Show which is focused on Produce.  The combination appears to have worked since the energy level and attendance at this show was way high.

Over the years, the lack of bodies in the building was an issue with exhibitors but it was not the case this year. The place was packed and by all accounts that I heard everyone was pleased with the number and quality of those perusing the halls. In many supermarket chains the produce manager is also in charge of the floral department so this show offers both suppliers to those buyers at one event.

The show offers a lot of different educational programs and the two that I attended were very good.

Cindy Hanauer of Grand Central Floral presented a Flower Power presentation that I found right on point. To summarize what I heard. She talked about the fact that the way customers are buying flower continues to change, as smart phones get smarter. This is a direct result of the innovative technology and logistics changes that now exist.Cindy-Hanauer

Jay Goltz of the Goltz Group gave a very pointed and on the money talk about running a business. He ended his talk pointing out that sometimes you need to fire people.  His basis talk was focused on keeping customers happy, doing things right and having the right people to do them. To get the right people you need to properly screen them before you hire. He asked the audience how many people actually checked references before they hire someone and there were not many hands in the air. He stressed the need to do so despite the common wisdom that no applicant would list a bad reference.


One of the most fun and surely the most exciting events was watching Pieter Landman of the Colour Republic host the Iron Designer Challenge.  Nine contestants battled it out in front of a standing room only crowd of supporters. Stems were flying and blooms were being stuffed, squeezed, tucked and delicately placed in arrangements from a predetermined selection of flowers and produce.  In the end Joe Lesczynski of Phillips Flowers was the winner. (See the photos at


The new products showcase offered a look at what vendors are hoping to be the next big thing. The only thing that caught my eye was a colorful cotton based lace patterned floral wrap from PNP Plast of Italy.


But those fragrant roses from Alexandra farms surely caught my nose. Garden roses have come a long way over the last five years and they have been one of the pioneers of the movement.

As one would expect the floral focus at the show was bouquets and everything pre-done.  Borrowing from the descriptions listed in the new products showcase. Grab and go, Softer Bears, write on Balloons, tulips on a bulb,  simple and easy,  continuous water supply, The shape of things to come, ready to be displayed, easy to assemble.

The message is clear, consumers want easy, fast, no brainer products that grow, live forever,  never dry out, never need attending to and don’t cost too much.  That’s not asking too much is it?

And Just in case there was not enough excitement at this event across the hall the FMI (Food Marketing Institute) show was going on at the same time. This show Is all about retail to consumer so the booths from Budweiser, Dole, the country of Italy and many other big names were large and over the top

My take on this show is that it was very well organized and provided ample time for business, networking and fun. The combination of produce and flowers makes a lot of sense and added lots of life and some good snacks to this show. The show is scheduled once again to be held in Chicago at the same venue for 2016 and I hope to see you there.


Williee Armellini
Editor and President

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