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An impressive final count of more than 18,000 members from the global fresh produce and floral industry converged Oct. 18-20 in New Orleans for the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) 2013 Fresh Summit, which was capped by networking, innovation-focused general sessions, educational workshops and two days of a bustling expo floor.
Having returned to New Orleans for the first time in 11 years, highlights of this year’s global produce pageant included a White House-touted appearance, unveiling of PMA’s new strategic plan, and themes of innovation and a new direction of marketing that infused many new products throughout the exposition.
"Our industry clearly loved returning to New Orleans,” said PMA President and CEO Bryan Silbermann, who said the Crescent City “has a different feel than most convention destinations. “It's the flavor of the city…its food, its music…this is where old meets new."
Cathy Green Burns (above, left), who will join the Newark, Del.-based trade organization as its new president December 1, was on hand at the confab to greet attendees with PMA leaders and board members, including Silbermann (r), who will retain his CEO duties when the leadership transition commences.
Meanwhile, PMA’s newly installed board chairman, Tim Riley, president of The Giumarra Cos., said, “The buzz around the show floor was palpable.”
Silbermann’s annual State of the Industry address featured Bolthouse Farms CEO Jeff Dunn, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative Executive Director Sam Kass and Dawn Sweeney, president, National Restaurant Association. The quartet urged the industry to focus its marketing efforts on driving consumer demand. In addition, joining Silbemann in an industry call-to-action for more women in leadership roles was Elisa van Dam of Simmons College.
Hailing from more than 60 countries and featuring more than 3,000 buyers, attendees gave high marks to keynote speakers Peter Sheahan – whose message of change resonated with Fresh Summit’s global audience – and Mat Shore, who posed thought-provoking questions about innovation faux pas.
Appealing to kids, packaging and digital innovations became a sharp focus in the new Innovations@Work area that included the 100+ item New Products Showcase with numerous new products designed just for kids
The Sensory Experience Contest celebrated the importance of flavor; 10 recipe finalists were taste-tested by buyers from across the supply chain, as well as kids from St. Tammany Parish. Winner of the Buyers’ Choice award was Bridges Organic Produce, while Sunkist Growers took home the Kids’ Choice award from the contest’s student judges.
Four exhibitors were chosen by an anonymous panel of industry experts as Best of Show, including:
Best of Show, In-line Booth: Sun-Maid Growers of California
Best of Show, Island Booth: Amerlux Lighting
Best New Product Launch: Sambazon
Best First-Time Exhibitor: It’s Fresh!
More information about next year’s Fresh Summit Convention and Expo, which will be held Oct.17-19, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif., can be found here.