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In an era of ever-tighter budgets and leaner corporate teams, industry trade shows have been steadily losing their luster with the masses.
But such is decidedly not the case with the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention and Expo, which is fresh off a record-breaking show in Atlanta over the weekend that drew 19,332 attendees from 63 countries to the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
In its 66th year, PMA posted the highest attendance at this year's fresh produce trade parade by surpassing the previous East Coast attendance record of 18,284 set in 2010, when the annual global event was held in Orlando. Buyer numbers tallied 3,380 – the highest for an East Coast Fresh Summit since 2011 – as the fresh produce industry continues to ride a wave of growth.
The expo hall was brimming with crowds from start to finish, with 1,060 exhibiting companies occupying 267,400 net square feet of new products, trends, technologies and innovations. Many exhibitors called show traffic “the best ever,” which was further validated for the second consecutive year on Twitter, where #FreshSummit fast became a top trending social media conversation around the world.
“Fresh Summit marks the annual homecoming for the produce and floral industry,” said Russ Mounce, VP/DMM of produce for Sam’s Club and PMA Board of Directors chair. “The show numbers speak to the importance of this event for so many and I’m also so pleased to see the number of floral exhibitors continue to grow.”
With topics like ethical sourcing, sustainability and variety, Mounce called on the industry "to collaborate on standards, systems and processes that drive responsible sourcing of produce. This coming year, I hope to influence progress in aligning those standards between retailers and suppliers, in improving supply chain transparency for our customers and finding innovative solutions that tackle unethical behavior.”
The three-day event included a significant focus on demand creation – creating new ways to help consumers eat more fresh produce. Capping that effort was the unveiling of a new strategic alliance with the Entertainment Resource & Marketing Association (ERMA), which brings together the produce industry and entertainment marketing professionals to make fresh produce center stage in television shows, movies and online entertainment with product placements and prominent references.
The partnership, along with eat brighter! and FNV, is one of several ongoing demand creation efforts by PMA to improve consumers’ health and combat childhood obesity.