The Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA), Alexandria, Va., and United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., announced a new partner for Global Cold Chain Expo 2018. Next year’s expo will be co-located with SmartFood Expo, launched by United Fresh, EnsembleIQ, Canada, and Progressive Grocer magazine.

SmartFood Expo will focus on the exploding category of healthy foods marketed as “better-for-you,” bringing retail and foodservice buyers a one-stop shop to see what’s new and learn about trends and opportunities.

The event will feature consumer products, including natural foods, plant-based foods, fresh and healthy, organics, raw foods, products with clean labels and limited ingredients and a wide variety of “better-for-you” foods. The SmartFood Expo Conference will bring together industry leaders to explore consumer trends, market data, merchandising strategies and more to help retailers and foodservice executives build upon the excitement and business growth in the “healthy foods” segment.

“We’re excited to be partnering with United Fresh, as well as all of the show partners in Chicago, to meet a glaring need in the healthy food space,” says Jeff Greisch, chief brand officer, EnsembleIQ. “We know from our readers/users that buyers are anxious to grow their healthy foods offerings to meet increasing consumer demand. Until now, they’ve had to work too hard to find those products and learn how to take advantage of these business opportunities. With our commitment to retail success, we’ll be bringing focus to this diverse marketplace, employing the full resources of the EnsembleIQ team, including the Path to Purchase Institute, Progressive Grocer, Convenience Store News and our other properties.”

“We are thrilled to welcome EnsembleIQ as a new partner that will attract a new segment of food industry leaders to the already robust cold chain/fresh produce/floral show floor,” says Corey Rosenbusch, president and CEO of GCCA. “The rising consumer demand for organic, natural and healthy foods presents a huge opportunity to the global cold chain audience. As these manufacturers – many of them representing smaller, niche labels – expand to meet consumer demands, our cold chain logistics, equipment and technology providers will be there to help guarantee their distribution channels are proficient to maintain the quality of their brand. Having the shows co-located provides a perfect platform to foster important relationships between the two sectors.”

The primary audience for the SmartFood Expo consists of buyers from multiple retail and foodservice channels sourcing “better-for-you” foods. These include major national chains but also independents, health and specialty food stores, restaurants, online marketers, home delivery and meal kit marketers and more. In addition, a number of larger CPG companies and private equity investors will be seeking new food products that might fit within their own portfolios.

“While a few tradeshows include a small selection of food products in this space, there are no shows targeted exclusively at the growing healthy foods segment,” says Tom Stenzel, president and CEO, United Fresh. “The show’s mission is to provide a unique opportunity for buyers to concentrate their focus on healthy foods. Chicago is an easy flight from anywhere in the U.S., as well as a major international destination, enabling widespread retail and foodservice attendance with minimal disruption to busy buyers’ daily work.”

SmartFood Expo will be the fifth partner show in June 2018, filling the 800,000-square-foot South Hall at Chicago’s McCormick Place side-by-side with the International Floriculture Expo, Global Cold Chain Expo, United FreshMKT and United FreshTEC.

“We’re thrilled to continue growing the footprint of healthy food, fresh foods, produce, floral and the cold chain services need to deliver the highest quality to consumers,” Stenzel says.