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    Glimpses from PMA Fresh Summit 2012

    Record crowds flock to Anaheim for annual produce pageant 

    The Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) 2012 Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition in Anaheim, Calif. set an all-time attendance record, but the top news of this year’s show was the energy and enthusiasm that it created from this year’s revamped convention schedule.

    Fresh Summit 2012’s disruption theme of “Say hello to the future,” was evident from the change-oriented workshops and innovation-focused general sessions to the urgent energy that resonated across the expo’s show floor. Workshops offering tips on social and mobile marketing were crowded with industry members seeking to connect with today’s on-the-go consumers. Meanwhile, keynote speakers urged attendees to position themselves to capitalize on the opportunities to be had during periods of disruptive business change by embracing creativity and diversity.

    “The keynote speakers are among the best I think I’ve ever seen at Fresh Summit, very relevant to the topics we are addressing within the association’s membership,” said Jan DeLyser, VP of marketing with California Avocado Commission and PMA's new board chairwoman.

    PMA reported final attendance of more than 21,000, including nearly 4,000 buyers. While the majority of attendees hailed from across the U.S. supply chain, international buyers and sellers hailed from 61 countries, from Argentina to New Zealand. The energy emanating from the crowded show floor reflected more than just the record number of attendees; it also encouraged buyers and sellers alike to engage more actively.

    “The fact that the show went to two days is making a big difference, [it] has more energy than I’ve ever seen,” said Rich Dachman, Sysco VP of produce. “Everybody seems to have a sense of urgency to do their business.”

    A focus on flavor, color, convenience and appealing to kids was evident across the 247,000-square-foot trade show. Highlights included the 100 plus-item new products showcase, with numerous new products designed just for kids.

    “Judging by what we saw here, our industry is optimistic about the future, and excited to seize the opportunities that always come along with market disrupters,” said PMA president/CEO Bryan Silbermann. “To do that, PMA continues to support the needs of our members in new and exciting ways – and we’ll put that evolution in motion over the next few months as the board of directors work to develop a new strategic plan.”

    Four exhibitors were chosen by an anonymous panel of industry experts to be “best of show,” a contest designed to generate attendee excitement and encourage exhibitors to enhance the effectiveness of their exhibition experience:

    • Best of Show, in-line booth: Frieda’s Specialty Produce;
    • Best of Show, island booth: Chestnut Hill Farms;
    • Best New Product Launch: Misionero Vegetables;
    • Best First-Time Exhibitor: Blue Diamond Growers

    Next year’s Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition will be held Oct.18-20, 2013, in New Orleans. 

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