Events, Most viewed stories, North America

Innovation and collaboration at the forefront: Potato Expo 2024 shatters records in Austin

Potato Expo 2024, hosted by the National Potato Council (NPC), has set a new benchmark for success in the potato industry. With a record-breaking attendance of 2,320 U.S. potato growers and industry members from 18 countries, the expo, held on January 10-11 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, has solidified its position as North America’s largest trade show for potato professionals.

Celebrating its 16th year, the Potato Expo 2024 outdid its previous attendance records, previously set at the Las Vegas show in 2020. The NPC President, RJ Andrus, remarked on the significance of the event, saying, “Kicking off every year, Potato Expo features industry experts and addresses issues top-of-mind for industry partners.”

This year’s expo doubled the number of educational and business-oriented sessions, held across three stages – the Expo Stage, the Cultivation Stage, and the Pavilion Stage in the all-new NPC Pavilion.

USTR’s Doug McKalip (center) tours the trade show floor with
NPC Executive Committee Members Jared Balcom (left) and
RJ Andrus (right). Photo credit: Potato Expo and Bill Schaefer

A significant highlight of the expo was the discussion with Doug McKalip, U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

McKalip emphasized the importance of science in trade negotiations, particularly with markets like Japan, which has delayed negotiations for U.S. fresh potatoes.

His words echoed the expo’s focus on both technological advances, such as the growing use of artificial intelligence in the industry, and the importance of public policy advocacy.

NPC CEO Kam Quarles praised his team for their efforts in creating a compelling program. “The standing-room-only crowd at most presentations tells us we are hitting the priorities that the industry cares about,” he said.

The expo also featured unique events like ‘Street & Potatoes: A Battle of the Best Tacos’, where teams competed for the title of “Top Spud”, showcasing the versatility of potatoes in culinary arts.

Another focus of the event was the Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF). The organization announced its new program, “Leadership in the Field: From Battlefield to Potato Field,” set to launch in July 2024 at Gettysburg National Military Park. This program aims to develop leadership skills using historical insights.

Potato Expo 2024 served not only as a hub for learning and business but also as a platform for raising funds for Potato LEAF, with auctions raising a record $108,000.

As the curtain falls on this successful event, the potato industry looks forward to Potato Expo 2025, set to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 14-15, with high expectations for continued growth and innovation in this dynamic sector.

Source: National Potato Council (NPC). Read the original release and view more photos here
Cover image: NPC CEO Kam Quarles (right) takes the stage with U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the USTR, Doug McKalip, to talk about the importance of trade to the potato industry. Photo credit: Potato Expo and Bill Schaefer Photography

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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