Nothing like fall — the kids are back in school, the hustle and bustle of a Southern summer is fading into the rear view and — best of all — the Southeast Produce Council’s fall show, the Southern Innovations Organics & Foodservice Expo, is right around the corner.

Scheduled for Sept. 28–30 at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort on Hilton Head Island, SC, this three-day event will encompass abundant opportunities to experience the SEPC’s four pillars: Networking, Innovation, Community, and Education.

Southern Innovations will commence on Thursday morning, September 28 with an educational Retail Organic Tour where attendees will have the opportunity to visit retail organic sections of local supermarket chains, including Publix, Kroger, The Fresh Market, and Whole Foods Market. Although space is limited, this is an exciting, innovative opportunity for SEPC members.

Be sure you make it to the General Session Keynote Breakfast on Friday, Sept. 29. The SEPC is delighted to welcome New York Times best-selling author, public speaker, and television host, Daphne Oz as featured keynote speaker. She is ABC-TV’s The Chew’s fresh face of healthy living and resident practical tipster, sharing helpful information and her unique personal insights to make healthy living fun, easy and — above all – delicious.

Daphne Oz

For Daphne, it’s all about being healthy and happy. This means fresh, flavorful foods that are easy to prepare, smart ingredient swaps to help save on calories, and plenty of room for worthy indulgences. Oz’s refreshing, realistic perspective on balancing the happy-healthy life has made her an in-demand speaker on all things food, style, and everyday fun.

Teri Miller

“We could not be any happier with this year’s sensational Keynote and Educational lineup to kick off our inaugural Southern Innovations Organics & Foodservice Expo,” declares Teri Miller, SEPC’s Chairman of the Board, “and Daphne Oz from The Chew is bound to bring a fresh perspective on living a healthy lifestyle as well as providing great insight on trends she gathers from her hit daytime television show. We believe she will be able to weave both our foodservice and organic elements together for a fantastic presentation!”

Additionally, Southern Innovations will offer two educational workshops.

Anne-Marie Roerink

For Workshop I: Getting to the Root of Organic Matters, the Organic Produce Network and The Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) The Power of Produce take a data-centric dive into the benchmarks and opportunity

gaps in the organic industry today. FMI’s The Power of Produce 2017 is in its third year and is comprised of a survey of 1,700 people overlaid with IRi and Nielsen data, which will be reported by Anne-Marie Roerink (Principal at 210 Analytics, LLC) with the dirt on shopper insights.

Moderator Matt Seeley

You will also hear from three industry segment professionals, Mark Carroll (Vice President of Produce and Floral with The Fresh Market), Christian Harris (Vice President of Produce with US Foods), and David Lessard (Vice President of Produce with

Christian Harris

Ahold USA), as they unearth how they have cultivated the organic segment within their own areas in the supply chain. This dynamic panel will be moderated by Matt Seeley (co-founder and CEO of the Organic Produce Network).

“We will first dive into the world of organics and see how it has and will shape the consumption of

David Lessard

produce in the Southeast,” says SEPC President and CEO David Sherrod. “We have an expert panel made up of seasoned professionals that will help us to understand how the organic

Mark Carroll

segment has grown and the potential opportunities we still have in front of us. It has been a wonderful experience collaborating with OPN, FMI, and 210 Analytics to bring this data-centric session to our Expo.”

In Workshop II: What’s on the Menu for the Future? A Slice into Foodservice Trends and How We Should Prepare for Tomorrow’s Consumers’ Appetite, SEPC members will hear from Ronnie De La Cruz (De La Cruz Consulting & Training), a seasoned consultant in the fresh produce industry.

Ronnie De La Cruz

De La Cruz will be serving as moderator for an outstanding panel of foodservice professionals including Jacquelyn Chi (Associate Director for the Strategic Initiatives Group of the Culinary

Jeff Tant

Institute of America), Jeff Tant (Corporate Produce Director of Performance Food Group), and millennial Kristin Yerecic (Marketing Manager of Yerecic Label).

Jacquelyn Chi

Sherrod gives us a taste of what’s in store during this workshop, saying, “We will cut into the foodservice sector and see what trends will be making their way onto menus across our marketing area. We will also have an expert panel offering

Kristin Yerecic

different perspectives from both a demographic and a professional point of view. We are excited to have De La Cruz Consulting & Training to facilitate the discussion and moderate the panel. Ronnie has been a friend of the SEPC for many years.”

The SEPC is also proud of its flagship program Southern Roots, an amazing networking opportunity for ladies only, bringing together women from all facets of the produce industry. This year’s unique event entitled What Makes a Great Leader? Questions We Should Be Asking will be presented by a panel of women in the Southern Roots Committee and will offer attendees a candid, personal conversation about the challenges and rewards of produce industry careers. Offered in an intimate setting, everyone will have the opportunity to share and interact with one another with the goal that all attendees will leave feeling enriched and empowered.

To learn more or to register for Southern Innovations Organics & Foodservice Expo, visit or call 877-720-SEPC (7372).

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