Miami Beach, in mid-June, hosted the return of the International Floriculture Expo (IFE) to South Florida, the “Land of Flowers,” after a four-year run in Chicago. With Florida being an international hub for many floral suppliers, the relocation brought lower costs and greater ease for “local” companies that exhibited at the trade show.


“IFE returned to Miami with a re-imagined floral-focused trade show.”


IFE, which heralds itself as “the largest floral B2B trade show in North America,” also returned to a single trade show focused entirely on floral and dedicated to the specific needs of floral buyers and suppliers. During its time in Chicago, IFE was co-located with other related-industry trade shows, so by comparison, this year’s event appeared small, initially, to some attendees. The numbers, however, tell a different story.

• Exhibiting companies totaled more than 175, a 7 percent increase over last year’s show in Chicago.
• The exhibit floor was 41,000 square feet, which was about 5 percent larger than IFE’s 2018 event.
• Attendance by “verified key buyers” (floral decision-makers from the mass-market retail floral, wholesale and high-volume retail florist segments), was up by around 20 percent over the 2018 Expo.
• The key buyers represented 98 supermarket/mass-market banners.
• Twenty-three buying groups attended this year’s show that had never attended an IFE previously.
• Total attendance (buyers, exhibitors and other industry professionals) topped 1,600.

But, how were sales? The majority of vendors with whom Super Floral spoke reported strong sales, overall, and more than 75 percent of this year’s exhibitors booked space while at this show for next year’s event, which is slated for June 9-11, 2020, again in Miami Beach. For more information about attending or exhibiting at IFE 2020, visit

In addition to the main event – the trade show – IFE hosted a number of events for buyers and vendors alike, including the “Merchandising Award of Excellence” presentation (see article on Pages 22-24), which was co-sponsored by Super Floral and Syndicate Sales; Education Day; the “Iron Designer Competition”; and the “Flower Naming Ceremony.” Attendees were also invited to enjoy a two-hour evening yacht cruise around Biscayne Bay.


Sponsored by burton + BURTON, this year’s “Education Day” kicked off with a networking lunch and the presentation of the annual “Merchandising Award of Excellence,” which recognizes the best in supermarket floral displays. The winners, for the second year in a row, were Cindy Fitzgerald, floral manager, and Michelle Beeson, floral designer and visual merchandiser, at Stony Brook Hy-Vee in Omaha, Neb. Two runners-up, Prea Jones from Stater Bros. Markets in Wildomar, Calif., and Katie Westphal from Hy-Vee in Cherokee, Iowa, were also recognized for their displays.

“Iron Designer Competition” judges (from left) Shay Lerhmann; Jackie Lacey, AIFD, AAF, PFCI; and Frank Feysa, AIFD, PFCI.

José Morales, left, and Laurel Hollopeter, AIFD, right, working on their designs during the “Iron Designer Competition.”

Andrea Grist, winner of the 2019 “Iron Designer Competition.”

Lane DeVries, the 2019 “Flower Naming” honoree.

Education Day continued with industry reports from global floriculture industry professionals including Jim Daly, Joaquin de la Torre, Colum Donnelly, Heidi Wernett and Neil Hellings. Sessions continued with HR guru Glenna Hecht, who explained how different generations can co-exist within the floral workplace, followed by burton + BURTON representatives Becca Knight and Edward Muñoz, CBA, who showed how trends and training can help create a successful balloon program.

The last of the day’s sessions focused on using technology to increase user experiences, courtesy of Ryan O’Neil of Curate, as well as marketing and growing businesses to a more profitable status, discussed by Shay Lehrmann of Aviv Flowers.


The “Iron Designer Competition” is described as “the biggest and most energetic event at IFE” with live competition in front of a cheering audience. Competitors are charged with creating designs from fresh cut flowers and just a few accessories. Each year has a new theme, which is not revealed until moments before the competition starts. The competitors must create a design that represents the theme with only the supplies provided to them, and within 20 minutes.

This year’s competitors were Paula Aurand; Laurel Hollopeter, AIFD; Johanne Gardere; Jenna Sleeman, AIFD; Beth O’Reilly, AIFD; Andrea Grist; Andrea Komuves; and José Morales, who had an enthusiastic cheering section among the crowd. This year’s judges were Frank Feysa, AIFD, PFCI; Jackie Lacey, AIFD, AAF, PFCI; Mark Frank; and Shay Lehrmann. After the designs were completed, much discussion ensued and the judges announced the winner – Andrea Grist of Florasource KC and runner-up Laurel Hollopeter, AIFD, of Hy-Vee. Congratulations!


The 2019 IFE “Flower Naming Ceremony,” which “honors floral industry pioneers who have made a significant impact over the course of their career,” was the 10th anniversary of the annual event. Chosen by a panel of floral industry leaders, this year’s honoree was Lane DeVries, president and CEO of The Sun Valley Group.

As winner, a special breed of tulip has been named after DeVries. Called ‘Dutch Lane’, the new tulip is a crossbreed of ‘Prominence x Ballerina’ and ‘Tres Chic’ from Vertuco BV. With his win, this the first time a flower farmer has been recognized with this honor. DeVries is a fourth-generation tulip farmer who was born in Holland and immigrated to the U.S. in 1983.