Growth was Abundant at PMA’s Fresh Summit International Conference in Anaheim
If you wanted to know everything there is around the produce industry and learn about it in one place, the Produce Market Association (PMA) 2014 Fresh Summit International Convention and Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center was the right place to be.
All facets of the industry, from seeds, packaging, equipment, shipping, import/export, growers, distributors, retailers and more were represented, with the more than 1,090 exhibitors on 265,300 square feet of exhibitor space (a record for space, and evidence of the show’s growth).
The attendance also set a record for the Anaheim location, with more than 20,000 attendees from 60-plus countries.
“The Fresh Summit International Convention really is a neural network of global and vertical integration, where all aspects of the industry are represented for education, networking and advancement,” said PMA CEO Bryan E. Silbermann.
He added, “There is both luminosity and serendipity happening at the show, where unplanned engagement can be just as impactful as planned meetings. And that is what makes face-to-face meetings like the Fresh Summit so exciting.”
This year’s show took place Oct. 17-19 and new products also were a hot topic. More than 180 new products were on display (also a record number), with more than a dozen kid-friendly offerings, which was very much in line with the push to inspire children to eat healthier.
“It has been great to see a focus on healthy eating among children, and how our industry can lead that charge,” said attendee Robert Solari, Executive Producer at Global Bites.
Exhibitors and attendees alike also were impressed, with the variety of educational sessions and notable guests, including topic experts from Pantone, FDA, The Hartman Group, and industry members, such as Chiquita, Sysco and DMA.
And just like the attendee array, the topics also were vast. “Our educational sessions embody the strategic pillars of PMA, including our global community, science and technology, industry talent, and issues leadership,” Silbermann said.
He added, “Our educational sessions reflect important topics in our industry, such as global trade, emerging technologies, talent acquisition, and food safety.”
Attendee and speaker Barry Lee, senior industry specialist from the International Finance Corporation, agreed. “There are so many facets of the industry, and a show like Fresh Summit provides a venue for members to learn, share and move the industry forward.”
When it comes to how the industry gives back, PMA has a great impact. “At this show alone, we provide nearly ¼ million pounds of food to food banks,” said Meg Miller, director of public relations, PMA. “And we have a PMA event on every single continent, which can really make an impact on how the industry gives back.”
Tracy Reeder, public relations director at NatureSweet Tomatoes, said, “The produce industry has a strong focus on how we can impact our communities, whether it is having sustainable packaging, supporting local gardens, or working to ensure food safety.”
One notable accolade shared by all: the efforts of the Anaheim Convention Center. Many remarked on the sustainable efforts of the convention center, as well as how the venue provided a true Southern California experience, including the Friday night reception in the outdoor space filled with great food and fantastic ambiance.
Next year’s Fresh Summit International Convention and Expo will be held Oct. 23- 25 in Atlanta.