Along with the latest industry news, we gleaned unique perspectives, tasted exciting new products and forged lasting connections at Chicago’s United Fresh 2015 convention this week.

For those who didn’t get to attend the event, here’s further reading on some of our observations:

Best flavor explosion: Finger limes. Burst this citrusy delight open to reveal little lime “caviar-like” pearls you squeeze into a drink like this tasty summer cocktail suggestion from Sunkist®.

Food stat we can’t ignore: 38% Americans trust what companies say on food labels, which means 62% don’t, says Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel’s Director of Innovation and Insight revealing 2015 Food & Drink Trends. “Brands should look to educate consumers in 2015 and help them understand why certain ingredients are in products and the purpose they serve.”

Most inspiring words of advice: “Be a great individual for the team.” Amen, hometown hero, Mike Ditka.

Best networking opportunity: Breakfast is the best meal of the day. Networking sessions are most productive. People are “fresh,” wide-awake and ready to chat. C|O’s director of business development. @thekristiproject

Most upbeet booth: LoveBeets. Yes, the Brit beet is on (and a hundred other beet puns). We swooned over smoothies, nibbled on power beet bars and best of all met the Brits: the Shropshires, who uprooted from England to grow their beet business in the U.S.

Most emotive appeal:
In a bid to help educate children about healthy eating for life, the Urban School Food Alliance (USFA) made a rousing appeal for food producers to be more inventive with their fresh food offerings, such as kids are cool with kale and some are growing their own cranberry hibiscus.

Most creative booth experience: Sid Wainer & Son’s booth was a piece of art. Like walking into a 100-year-old grocery store, with elaborately styled fresh vegetables and jars of spices. Best touch: authentic cut-from-the-wheel cheese sampling.

Packaging most likely to make moms love you even more: Grab&Go Buddy Fruits® Smoothies grew up. Now grown-ups can get in on the action: Fruit Break™.

Most fun messaging: Let’s hear it for the spuds. The Little Potato Company’s booth featured a little spud in a bikini with the words: “Only 20 calories (fully dressed).” While Black Gold Farms invited traffic to “Get a Wedgie.” Staff wore gold “Official Wedgie Giver” shirts and handed out red and sweet potato wedges.

And the Google®-ing goes on … What were some of your highlights? Be sure to let us know.

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