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Registration is now open for the Southeast’s premier fall produce event, the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Innovations Organics and Foodservice Expo, scheduled for Sept. 28-30 at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa (pictured above) in South Carolina.

The event was known as the SEPC Fall Conference for the first decade of its existence, then evolved into the Southern Innovations Symposium. This year, SEPC is taking advantage of growing opportunities in organics and foodservice to rebrand and further define the fall show.

“With organic and foodservice markets taking produce to a whole new level, this industry-setting event will provide retail and foodservice professionals with the best of organics and foodservice that produce has to offer while maintaining an intimate setting to build meaningful industry relationships,” said SEPC Executive Director David Sherrod.

 

The famous lighthouse on Hilton Head (Photo MoodyGroove/Wikipedia)

In addition to networking and educational opportunities, there will also be a tradeshow component.

The fall conference/SIS “has really grown to the point where now we’re going to add a miniature tradeshow,” said former SEPC President Andrew Scott, director of marketing and business development for Atlanta’s Nickey Gregory Company. “We’re going to have booths – less than 100 — and be at a small convention center real close to the Westin, just a mile away.”

The Friday schedule will include educational and networking opportunities, lunch and the tradeshow. That evening will feature the semi-formal President’s Dinner Dance, along with the changing of the guard as a new slate of SEPC officers is announced, Scott said.

Saturday morning will bring a golf tournament and fishing tournament, along with a yet-to-be-announced spouses excursion for those who choose neither.

Saturday afternoon is reserved for the legendary tailgate party. College football fans start gathering shortly after the golf tournament ends, wearing school colors and watching the games on about 15 TVs, Scott said. We’ve been doing that for about 10 years; instead of sneaking off from other events to watch football we just turned it into a networking opportunity.

Scott remembers the first fall conference, which drew between 100-125 people to Georgia’s Lake Lanier Islands in the early 2000s. “Last year there were 325 attendees and we’ll beat that for sure this year,” he said. “This will be the biggest and best this coming September, no doubt about it. We’re going to have a lot more retail and foodservice people there than we have had in the past.”


Scott believes the focus on organics and foodservice will be welcomed in an industry that’s changing due to demands from both those sectors.

“The show will be geared towards organics and foodservice, two important and growing areas,” he said. “At the Nickey Gregory Co. probably half our business or more is foodservice sales. And we’re going to be getting into organics in a big way later this year when we move into 42,000 square feet of additional space on the Atlanta State Farmers Market. SEPC is always listening to its members and paying attention to their needs, and this is just another example of that.”

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