The more than 19,300 attendees, including 1,060 exhibiting companies, at this year’s Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention & Expo filled Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center with unprecedented energy and innovation, offering every indication that the future of produce is indeed bright.
The annual State of the Industry address at Fresh Summit, presented by PMA CEO Bryan Silbermann and President Cathy Burns, touched on industry trends, challenges and initiatives.
During the address, PMA unveiled its partnership with the Entertainment Resource & Marketing Association (ERMA), which aims to elevate the exposure of fresh produce in television shows, movies and online entertainment. The new partnership complements PMA’s ongoing initiatives, including Eat Brighter! and FNV (Fruits and Vegetables), both of which seek to improve the nation’s health and combat childhood obesity.
The presentation also addressed changes in fresh produce consumption, which has been driven largely by the Millennial demographic — a generation more interested in trying new foods and more concerned with the integrity of the food supply than any generation before.
According to new market research from Chicago-based Mintel, “Millennials pursue unique foods from retailers and brands they perceive as trustworthy,” thereby blending a desire for both “authentic” and “ethical” retailers and brands.
Mintel further found that 59 percent of Millennials will stop buying a certain brand’s products if they believe that the brand is unethical.
In response to increased demand from consumers for transparency, Turbana Corp., a Coral Gables, Fla.-based importer of bananas, plantains, pineapples, and ethnic tropical and healthy snacks, unveiled a communication platform at PMA that includes the launch of a new website, www.turbana.com, featuring detailed information about Turbana’s produce, farms and production processes.
Turbana’s new messaging, “Together, We Grow,” expresses how the corporation works with its retail partners and shoppers to create opportunities that empower people and transform lives. Turbana gives a portion of every purchase of its products to Fundauniban, its social foundation dedicated to developing farming communities in banana- and plantain-growing regions.
Meanwhile, Fair Trade was top of mind at Wholesum Harvest, a Nogales, Ariz.-based organic produce company, which featured new products that support its commitment to sustainability.
“What does Fair Trade mean on our farms?” asked Ricardo Crisantes, VP of Wholesum Harvest. “Fair Trade creates community and year-round reliable work on our farms.”
In an effort to help retailers better communicate the Fair Trade message, Wholesum Harvest revealed plans to introduce its growers to some of its retailer customers, and to educate produce team members on Fair Trade practices.
The company also debuted Wholesum Harvest Organic 6-count Tomatoes in cardboard packs that are 100 percent compostable. The packs are sealed with a film that significantly reduces plastic waste.
Healthful Snacking Soars
Produce suppliers continue to innovate with healthful snacks that allow consumers to incorporate more produce into their diets, and often on the go. The PMA Expo showcased an abundance of these easy-to-enjoy nutritious treats.
Mariani Packing Co., of Vacaville, Calif., presented its Probiotic Prunes. Featuring the probiotic culture GanedenBC30, these nutrition-packed pitted prunes support digestive and immune health, offer antioxidants, and are a source of dietary fiber. Mariani’s Probiotic Prunes come in 7-ounce bags (12 to a case).
At Yuba City, Calif.-based Sunsweet Growers Inc., a new line of dried-fruit products, Pacific Tropicals, satisfies both the better-for-you snacking trend and heightened interest in exotic flavors by offering Philippine Mango, Philippine Green Mango, Tai Coconut and Philippine Pineapple varieties.
Bard Valley Date Growers, which showed visitors new ways to sample and serve Medjool dates, such as spread with peanut butter or cream cheese. The Bard, Calif.-based producer of Natural Delights also featured a number of new products, including seasonal date rolls in three favors: Pecan Pumpkin Pie Spiced, Dark Chocolate Orange and Lemon Coconut.
A Different Apple a Day
As consumers increasingly look for new and interesting apple varieties, more growers are cultivating lesser-known, hybrid and heirloom varieties.
Selah, Wash.-based Rainier Fruit Co. displayed a number of unique apples, including the Junami brand. A cross between Idared, Maigold and Elstar, the Junami apple was, until recently, grown only in Europe. Rainier is the exclusive North American grower of this variety.
The company also featured its Lady Alice premium variety apples in a new pouch bag, available in January. While the heritage of the Lady Alice is unknown, the name was chosen to honor the mother of Rainier’s owner.
One of the “rising stars” in the apple category, organic apples are increasingly in demand, noted Rainier’s Aaron Deherrera, who noted that the company has built an organic-only, high-tech facility for its organic apples.
Exhibitors offered every indication that the future of produce is indeed bright.
Produce suppliers continue to innovate with healthful snacks that allow consumers to incorporate more produce into their diets, and often on the go.