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Produce supply chain members had the opportunity to connect and network with regional retail buyers during Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Connections: Retail in Charlotte, N.C., on April 9-10. This year’s event featured the addition of floral retailers to the traditional produce buyers, representing a total of 12 chains, including Wegmans Food Markets, Walmart and Schnuck Markets.
“This program inspired me to take advantage of electronic media to reach new and existing customers,” said Michael Shrader, floral buyer for St. Louis-based Schnucks and chair of PMA’s Floral Council. “And during the reception and networking throughout the program, I was able to make several new contacts and reconnect with many others.”
Attendees heard from Lorna Christie, president and CEO of Christie Consulting, who addressed the importance of the global consumer and a buyer’s purchasing motivation. Social media expert and president of tMedia Strategies, Carisa Miklusak, was on hand to discuss how businesses can most effectively engage in the digital world.
“After attending this program I feel more confident and equipped to address our consumers with social media,” said Dave Corsi, VP of produce and floral at Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans. “Listening to the presentations, I realized our customers want to feel special – that we know who they are, and understand how to serve them better through social media.”
North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Kevin Hardison also attended the event, serving as a liaison to meet and speak with members of the produce and floral supply chain and lend an ear to needs and challenges.
“I met leaders in similar fields and found common goals that we could work on together,” Hardison said. “The experience allowed me to develop new contacts that will help in the Department’s role to advance the produce business.”
Attendee Scott Ross, eastern region business manager for Giumarra Companies said, “The timing of this event couldn’t have been better for me. I am new to my position and the networking opportunities and program topics really aligned with our goals to grow business. PMA continues to keep digital technology top of mind for the produce industry."
PMA will host Fresh Connections: Retail in San Diego on June 11-12, 2013.