Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention and Expo, the annual homecoming of the fresh produce and floral industry, drew record-breaking attendance from the global supply chain attracting 19,332 attendees from 63 countries, Oct. 23-25 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. AgNet West was at the convention and visited with several California companies.
In its 66th year, the event surpassed the previous East Coast attendance record of 18,284 set in 2010, when Fresh Summit was held in Orlando. Buyer numbers were 3,380 – the highest for the East Coast since 2011. The expo hummed with excitement as 1,060 exhibiting companies occupying 267,400 net square feet showcased new products, trends, technologies and innovations. Mandy exhibitors called traffic in the show “the best ever.” And, for the second consecutive year, #FreshSummit was a top trend on Twitter – meaning it was one of the most popular social media conversations around the world, all on one day.
“Fresh Summit marks the annual homecoming for the produce and floral industry,” said Russ Mounce, vice president/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.” He added, “Connecting globally at Fresh Summit – or through the many opportunities PMA provides for members year-round – opens tremendous possibility for the industry to learn from each other, gain new perspectives and find shared solutions. With topics like ethical sourcing, sustainability, and multiple varieties, we as an industry need 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. The association announced a new strategic alliance with the Entertainment Resource & Marketing Association (ERMA), bringing together the produce industry and entertainment marketing professionals to make fresh produce center stage in television shows, movies and online entertainment. This 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. The event’s demand creation focus culminated with a congratulatory video from First Lady Michelle Obama, thanking the industry for its outstanding work to promote fruits and vegetables – with special acknowledgement for those leaders participating in both the eat brighter!™ and FNV initiatives.
On the expo floor, four exhibitors were chosen by a panel of industry experts for “best of show,” a contest designed to generate attendee excitement and encourage exhibitors to enhance the effectiveness of their exhibition experience – all were first time exhibitors:
• Best of Show, in-line booth: Kitchen22, Booth 5359
• Best of Show, island booth: Litehouse, Booth 4836
• Best New Product Launch: Evolution Fresh, Booth 5465
• Best First-Time Exhibitor: Meshdecor, Booth 4084
A series of educational sessions focused on topics like trade in the global market, emerging floral trends, talent development, and leveraging data to enhance food safety. “Fresh Summit proves itself as so much more than a tradeshow,” said Brian Cook, San Miguel Produce director of sales and marketing and Fresh Summit Committee chair. “As the business of produce and floral shifts and expands faster than anyone can fully anticipate, industry leaders travel to Fresh Summit from more than 60 countries to identify emerging trends, foresee change, and profit from new opportunities. Put simply, Fresh Summit helps our businesses thrive.”
Next year’s Fresh Summit Convention and Expo will be held Oct. 14-16, 2016, in Orlando, Fla., USA. For more information, visit www.freshsummit.com.