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    Fresh Summit Overflows With Energy, Ideas

    18,000-plus gather for annual industry event

    Continued growth, value and greater connections were on ample display at the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) 2011 Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition, which was held Oct. 14-17 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The tone was set from the start of the event, as a new brand promise of “Let’s Grow” and an updated logo welcomed the more than 18,000 industry professionals from 65-plus countries.

    “Fresh Summit is a place to connect, be exposed to new ideas and trends, and is where the produce industry’s next year begins,” said John Oxford, president and CEO of L&M Cos. and PMA’s Fresh Summit Committee chairman. “This year’s turnout has been everything the Fresh Summit Committee and Exhibit Advisory Committee had hoped it would be.”

    Among the new concepts on show was the launch of the trade organization’s online social networking space, PMA Xchange, which offers the ability to access real-time insights, forge smarter connections and extend the year-round value of PMA beyond Fresh Summit. “Xchange is just one example of how PMA is using new tools to help our members grow their businesses,” noted Kelly Koczak, the Newark, Del.-based association’s VP of marketing.

    In the annual State of the Industry address, PMA President and CEO Bryan Silbermann exhorted attendees to consider how industry members can grow together. He additionally urged them to think of themselves as being in the fresh food business rather than the commodity business, to create instead of waiting for opportunities, and to make food safety an integral part of their corporate cultures.

    Additional event highlights included U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan’s appearance at Friday’s opening general session; the election of the 2011-2012 PMA board of directors, chaired by Rich Dachman of Sysco Inc.; the more than 1,000 exhibitors and sub-exhibitors showcasing their hottest products and services; PMA’s annual Impact Awards, which recognized five innovators in produce and floral packaging; the bestowal of the Floral Marketer of the Year Award on Dr. Terril Nell, professor and chairman of the University of Florida’s Environmental Horticulture Department; enhanced communications via PMA TV, the Fresh Summit Daily newspaper and a mobile app; and keynote speakers, including former Starbucks CEO Jim Donald and Travelocity.com founder and former CEO Terry Jones, as well as educational programming and live panel discussions.

    2012’s Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition, scheduled for Oct. 26-29 in Anaheim, Calif., is already more than 80 percent booked with exhibitors, according to PMA. For more information, visit www.freshsummit.com.
     

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