The Potato Expo opened Jan. 8. Potato Grower has a booth in the trade show, and is covering the sessions which you can read about in upcoming issues.
The Expo has become the preeminent show for the potato industry and grows in booths and attendees every year.
We hit the trade show floor to find out what attendees expectations are and why they came to San Antonio.
Brothers Eran and Guy Bilson flew in today from Mexico City. These potato growers from Agriproductores Bilcar Farm came specifically looking at packaging machines. They are checking with manufacturers on availability, costs and will likely be putting down a deposit at the show.
Shae Lehr of Lehr Brothers, Inc. in Edison, Calif., has been to previous Expos. She says it is nice to have all the different seed growers in one place and that she enjoys talking to them about new varieties. Like the Bilson Brothers, Lehr is also looking at new packaging equipment to enable her growing, shipping and packaging operation to offer smaller packages for her specialty varieties.
Kevin and Tammy Ramsey of American Falls, Idaho grow process potatoes for Lamb-Weston. First-time attendees from K-K Enterprises, the Ramseys came to the Expo looking for education and will attend as many breakout sessions as they can. Tammy is especially looking forward to tomorrow's lunch session presented by economist/humorist Ben Stein. "You won't learn anything from him," Kevin cracked.
Frank Yan led a group of growers from Minfeng Potato Company in Inner Mongolia to San Antonio. One of the largest growers in China with 12,000 acres, the group came looking to learn how the U.S. potato industry differs from their own. As their interpreter, Yan plans will do his best to translate at the breakout session for these first-time attendees.
Lupita Distaso is the VP of Purchasing for Bagger Dave's Legendary Burger Tavern in Southfield, Mich. Bagger Dave's only serves fresh fries cut in their restaurants and Distaso is looking for unique, boutique varieties "to delight our guests."
Marcelo Huarte came to San Antonio from Argentina to the meet and consult with Chinese growers. Huarte is the head of the potato program for INTA and the president of the Latin-American Potato Association.
It's easy to see why the Potato Expo continues its growth. It is the only potato industry show in the U.S. that draws such a diverse cultural and geographical group.