On the dock of the bay By Bill Schaefer

Previews of the Potato Expo and Potato D.C. Fly-In

The upcoming winter conference schedule gets jumpstarted early in 2017 with the National Potato Council’s (NPC) ninth annual Potato Expo at the San Francisco Convention Center Moscone West on Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 1 p.m. This is the first time the Expo will convene in the City by the Bay.

Once again, the United Potato Growers of America (UPGA) will sponsor the Potato Business Summit at 8 a.m., prior to the opening of the Expo.

The summit will feature seven presentations on the North American and international potato markets. Speakers include Sterling Liddell of Rabobank, Steve Patterson and Wayne Welter of J.R Simplot, Drew Facer of Idahoan Foods and Cedric Porter of World Potato Markets.

Go to www.potatobusinesssummit. com to register, for free, for the summit. The summit will be streamed live from San Francisco. A link to the live feed will be posted on the above website prior to the event.

The 2017 Expo looks to continue to grow and expand, with more than 180 exhibitors expected to fill the 90,000- plus square feet of space. The trade show opens at 1 p.m., with the second annual Spud Nation Throwdown Cook-off beginning at 3 p.m. on the Expo Stage.

Returning to emcee the cook-off is Phil Lempert, aka “The Supermarket Guru.” This year’s competition will feature a group of chefs from Asia and Latin America using potatoes in their international cook-off.
John Keeling, NPC CEO and executive vice president, asid he is looking forward to the cook-off.

“We’re going to have four international chefs on stage cooking potato recipes that use dehy, that use fresh, that use frozen,” Keeling said. “We’ll have both Hispanic influence as well as Asian influence, and we’ll see who’s chosen the top spud – and that’s always exciting.”

The Expo’s first day concludes with the kick-off reception on the trade show floor from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

It’s a full day of presentations and seminars on Thursday, Jan. 5. The morning begins with breakfast on the trade show floor followed by Rich Karlgaard’s presentation, “Four Megatrends & Three Best Practices That Will Shape Your Business Future.” Karlgaard’s presentation will be followed by a Spud Nation Throwdown panel discussion moderated by Lempert.

Thursday’s luncheon features keynote speaker Jim “The Rookie” Morris. Morris’ speech, “Never Give Up on a Dream,” is based on his own story of overcoming adversity to become a professional baseball pitcher.

His story was told in the movie “The Rookie,” starring Dennis Quaid. Morris’ dream to pitch in major league baseball would be derailed by arm injuries in the minor leagues during his early 20s. Eleven years later, as a high-school teacher and baseball coach, he discovers that he can pitch again and he promises his team that if they win their district tournament he would go to an open tryout camp for major league baseball, and the rest is movie history.

Following the luncheon, four break- out sessions focusing on chip, fresh, process and seed and technology will take place.

Three networking receptions, one for young professionals, one for women in the potato industry and one for Potato Industry Leadership Institute alumni, will take place from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Thursday will conclude with a San Francisco Street Party sponsored by Bayer. Friday begins with breakfast in the trade show, with a speaker yet to be announced on the Expo stage at 9 a.m. The trade show and Expo will conclude at 11 a.m. ,and you can begin making plans for the 2018 Potato Expo in Orlando, Florida.

Potato D.C. Fly-In

The dust has settled from this year’s election. The Trump administration will be setting up shop in Washington, D.C., and the 2017 Fly-In will be the place to be this February.

This year’s Fly-In runs from Feb. 13 to Feb. 16. Two weeks earlier than previous Fly-Ins.

“With every new Congress and new administration, there’s probably a six-month window in which there’s an opportunity to get things done,” Keeling said. “I think it will be interesting to see what gets teed up and those big things the administration goes after.”

Speaking prior to the election, Keeling said that if Clinton is elected he would hope to see immigration policy addressed, and if Trump is elected there’s a better chance at tax reform.

Another big issue that will be discussed at the Fly-In will be USDA’s development of new dietary guidelines for 2020-2025.

“We’ll be very interested in what the backdrop for the new dietary guidelines is,” Keeling said. “How the new administration is, their position on nutrition, their position on how potatoes fit into the dietary guidelines.”

Keeling hopes to see a large contingent of growers and industry leaders at the 2017 Fly-In.

“I hope we get a lot of people to come to the Fly-In,” he said. “It promises to be a great year.”

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