In person, conferences are finally back. This April, Berlin is playing host to the annual Fruit Logistica Conference on April 5, 6, and 7. After two years of pivoting to all things interactive and Zoom-led, the produce industry is once again coming together in person. In advance of the Vanguard team touching down in Berlin, we chatted with Group CEO Craig Stauffer and President of Vanguard Direct, Dirk Winkelmann to preview this key industry event.
Q: Is this your first back-in-person conference?
Craig: The Transpacific Maritime Conference (TMP) at the end of February 2022 was Dirk’s and my first conference “back” connecting with colleagues and industry friends in person.
Q: Since the pandemic took events virtual do you expect to see many changes at these major conferences?
Dirk: There is a hunger to get back to in person meetings. We have had long standing relationships with customers and suppliers that took years to develop and is aided by nurturing, especially during these challenging times. This is always best done in face-to-face encounters. In addition, there is the element of customer development that has proven difficult to do in a virtual setting, so getting back out to meet personally potential new customers is expected to produce results that virtual approaches fail to achieve.
Craig: I believe that people really want to get back to meeting face to face for important meetings, networking, and information gathering. There are always subtle important nuances that simply cannot be gleaned during virtual calls.
Q: What are Vanguard’s goals this Fruit Logistica event?
Craig: To meet with our key growers, customers, and carriers, most of whom we have not seen in person for since the start of the pandemic and to conduct our annual business reviews to ensure we are meeting our trading partners’ needs and requirements.
Q: Any particular speakers/events you are looking forward to taking in?
Dirk: There is always a great line up of events at Fruit Logistica and this year is no exception. We are really looking forward to the Sunworld Licensee Appreciation Dinner as an example. There has been a tremendous amount of activity in the “breeder world” over the past season and our meeting with other Sunworld growers globally to exchange perspectives on the advantages of varietal positioning in the markets will be a fascinating discussion.
Q: What do you do in Berlin on your (very little) spare time?
Dirk: Berlin is a beautiful and important historical city with a rich selection of great restaurants. Walking, eating, exercising (critical after the great meals). Email constantly haunts us and challenges us to keep a balance in getting out, breathing the air, and engaging with industry colleagues.
Q: How can people find you during the conference who want to connect?
Craig: You can find us on the convention floor most days, but if we don’t bump into each other that way, email or Whatsapp is the best way to connect with us.
Every day is different at Vanguard; with new growers joining our community, new crops and fresh varieties being introduced, and new markets opening. Keep up to date with what’s happening in our expanding world.