Australia: Hort Connections a "one-stop shop" for entire industry

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The upcoming Hort Connections 2019 in Australia looks set to be the biggest and most international edition yet, serving as a key meeting point for members from across the global fruit and vegetable supply chain.

The third-annual installment of the industry conference and trade show, which is co-organized by industry body AUSVEG and the Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand (PMA A-NZ), will take place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from June 24-26.

Attendance figures have seen incremental growth since Hort Connections was established in 2017, as a fusion between AUSVEG's National Horticulture Convention and the PMA A-NZ's Fresh Connections.

More than 3,000 people are expected to attend this year's event, which will feature a large range of thought-provoking educational talks on numerous issues related to the produce industry. The event will also feature a full trade show with hundreds of companies exhibiting as well as industry tours to local retailers and farms.

"It's gone from strength to strength for us in terms of people coming to the event," said AUSVEG national marketing manager Nathan McIntyre.

"We've seen steady growth each year and the industry feedback that we've received has been really strong. We've done the right thing by combining the events together to create one big event for everyone to come to at the same point in time, rather than several different events that take a lot of time and resources to get people to attend. It's a one-stop shop for all of horticulture."

The event's theme this year is 'Growing our Food Future', with many of the educational sessions to be focused on topics like sustainability, how food will be grown in the years to come, producing more with less, and reducing waste.

There will also be keynote addresses from leading local and global agricultural thought leaders, including former Masterchef winner Adam Liaw, Foodbank Australia CEO Brianna Casey and athlete and inspirational speaker Samantha Gash.

"We have a really strong breadth of content. We bring our speaker content up into different areas of the supply chain so that no matter who is attending, they get some value out of being part of that conference," McIntyre said.

"We'll also have around 200 exhibiting companies who'll attend this year in Melbourne and that makes it a very attractive proposition for growers and anyone in the supply chain to come and get the latest information on products and services that are relevant to their business."

Ample networking opportunities at Hort Connections

In addition, attendees will enjoy ample networking opportunities with people from around the world.

"Hort Connections is the largest event in Australian horticulture and are building our international presence, which is an important component for us as well," McIntyre said.

He explained there would be a large number of buyers from key Asian markets and a strong presence of people from other regions like New Zealand, Europe and India.

"For people within the horticulture or fresh produce industry in Australia in any capacity, we have built what we feel is a fantastic event that is the largest in the industry," he said.

"If you wanted to get in front of a lot of prominent growers, if they're your customers, then they'll be there at Hort Connections. And if you’re a grower wanting to find out about the latest products and services in the industry, then all those people will be there on the trade show floor."

For overseas attendees, McIntyre noted that there is a rising number of international companies exhibiting on the trade floor amid growing demand for products and technology from elsewhere in the world.

"We're finding that Australian farmers have got a real interest for different technologies that might be coming out of some other regions that are not available as of yet," he said.

"I think if there are companies that have some technologies available that might provide solutions to these growers, they would definitely be receptive to hearing about how they can potentially fix some of the problems they're facing in their businesses. We encourage them to come along and be part of this event."

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