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Hello, Nashville! The Southeast Produce Council Southern Innovations Organics and Foodservice Expo takes place now through the weekend at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

It’s always special, but even more so in this, the Council’s 20th anniversary year.

Watch for our live show coverage via our broadcast partner The RFD-TV Network Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, tune in to Market Day Report to see Southeast Produce Council leaders talk about the organization and the expo live in the RFD-TV Studios. Starting at 10 a.m. and every half hour or hour until 2, a different SEPC guest will be on the air.

At 10 a.m., SEPC Lifetime Membership Award recipient Martin Eubanks (ret. South Carolina Dept. of Ag) will talk about SEPC history.

At 10:30, Kristin Scott (Yerecic Label) will talk about SEPC’s education initiatives.

At noon, Board Member Tim Graas (AWG) will talk about SEPC community outreach, including Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Palmer Home for Children, Paul Anderson Youth Home and the Society of St. Andrew.

At 12:30, SEPC Treasurer and Conference Chairman Raina Nelson (RFG) will talk about the Council’s track record of innovation, including the STARS and STEP-UPP programs.

At 1, incoming Chairman Brandon Parker of Shuman Farms will talk about networking, Southern Exposure, Southern Innovations and Southern Roots among other topics.

And at 1:30, FMI’s Rick Stein will join SEPC Chairman and CEO David Sherrod for a conversation about a partnership between the two organizations that’s paying powerful dividends.

On Friday, we’ll be broadcasting live from the expo from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. And next week we’ll have full coverage of the weekend’s events on RFD-TV and Southeast Produce Weekly.

The theme of this year’s expo is fitting for Nashville — A Symphony of Produce.

It’s a three-day composition, including opportunities to experience the four SEPC pillars of Networking, Innovation, Community, and Education, all while keeping time to the rhythm and Southern charm of Music City.

Thursday morning begins with the SEPC’s newly integrated RECIPE session for its foodservice members, featuring teams of industry experts and guest chefs.

That afternoon, the Southern Roots Luncheon will provide ladies within the industry an interactive presentation by Shasta Nelson, a friendship expert whose programs teach how to create healthier, more fulfilling relationships in our lives.

The Thursday evening Welcome Reception will set the tone for the weekend, including live entertainment from up-and-coming country music singer/songwriter Daniel E. Johnson.

Friday is a major day of networking and education, beginning with two educational sessions. The first, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Organics but Were Afraid to Ask, will feature a variety of panelists displaying the wide assortment of challenges in organics.

The second, Avocado to Zucchini: Trending Produce in Foodservice, will feature an all-star panel discussing which produce items are up and coming in foodservice, which items have grown, and which items have hit market proliferation.

Next is the General Session & Keynote Luncheon, where attendees will receive a brief State of the Council update, which will include the presentation of the graduating STEP-UPP Class and the prestigious Next Generation Award. The keynote address will come from Steve Robinson, former Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Chick-fil-A.

After the overture of educational sessions, attendees will join exhibitors for the Organics & Foodservice Expo featuring innovative products, live music, and more. That evening comes the finale at the Chairman’s Dinner Dance, including the ceremonial Passing of the Gavel from current Chairman Steve Pinkston to Parker, capped by a show starring  country singer/songwriter Chris Lane.

Saturday the conference changes tempo but the networking continues with the Founders Memorial Golf Tournament, Sporting Clays, or sightseeing. That afternoon comes the greatest football extravaganza in the biz, the Ultimate Tailgate Experience.

SEPC is anticipating an even greater response than 2018’s record-breaker, especially with sold-out exhibitor space. The expo floor has grown about 15% over last year and some 250 Retail, Foodservice, and Wholesale Buyers are expected.

“We are really excited to be back in Nashville this year. We have assembled an all-star lineup of industry experts to share with us the hottest new trends in both the Organic and Foodservice sectors,” said Council CEO and President David Sherrod. “We also have two great keynote speakers in Steve Robinson and Shasta Nelson. We will learn from them that success is always determined in how we treat others and how we want to be treated.

“We have added our RECIPE Roadshow to the front end of the conference to provide educational opportunities for local Foodservice end-users. This engaging session will utilize corporate chefs as experts describe the handling and preparation of the four major produce items used in the hospitality sector today.

“Last, but not least, we will be treated to some of the best from the Nashville music scene (and maybe even a few from the produce industry!). Chris Lane and his band will headline our Chairman’s Dinner Dance on Friday night. We also hear there may be a few ‘star’ appearances as well.”

For more on this year’s show, visit southerninnovations.seproducecouncil.com/

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