Moving Produce To The Center Of The Plate

For Foodservice Growth,Focus on Flavor

Want to significantly increase your foodservice sales using fresh produce? Then make plans now to attend this year's PMA Foodservice Conference & Exposition, which will focus on the central role that produce flavor plays in delighting customers and achieving sales growth — and how to overcome barriers to putting more fresh produce on the menu.

This year's conference, dubbed “Find Your Flavor,” will focus on flavor as the key to growing your foodservice business with fresh produce. The two-day event, to be held July 29-31 in Monterey, Calif., combines PMA's signature education, expo and networking.

On the plate for this year's conference:

■ National Restaurant Association president and CEO Dawn Sweeney and PMA president and CEO Bryan Silbermann will deliver the opening general session update on the Foodservice 2020 Initiative

■ Educational topics will spotlight the initiative's key focus areas, including food safety, innovations in menu trends, lowering plate costs and improving buyer/seller relationships

■ Chef demos will think past the salad and side dish, to look at how to use produce to enhance the main dish's flavor profile

■ The only national trade show dedicated to fresh produce in foodservice will focus on delivering flavor this year — even the exhibitors' “best of show” contest has been replaced by a “best of flavor” contest

■ Attendees can take advantage of outstanding networking, thanks to an attendee and exhibitor list that perennially reads like a foodservice and produce industry “Who's Who” directory

For more information and to register online, visit Register early for extra savings; buyers also receive deep registration discounts.

Foodservice + Produce = Retail Inspiration

The lines between food-service and supermarket retail continue to blur, with more retailers offering a greater variety of prepared foods — and for good reason. The local supermarket offers shoppers the advantage of convenience: Let's pick up lunch or dinner while doing our other shopping.

So, where do you look for your retail inspiration? Mobile trucks, ethnic flavors and locally grown are foodservice trends ripe for exploitation now by retail, with fresh produce playing a starring role.

Chicago-based Technomic recently identified food trucks as a top emerging foodservice trend ripe for retail exploitation (see “Foodservice Trend Forecast,” December 2010, Today's higher-quality truck cuisine includes exotic tacos and pizzas, ethnic-inspired wraps, sliders, gourmet grilled cheese, and even cupcakes. Ethnic foods are often their focus — now going beyond Chinese to Thai and Vietnamese, or offering international variations on old American favorites. Fresh ingredients are central to these trends, putting more fresh produce at the center of the plate vs. the protein-centric traditional American diet.

The National Restaurant Association's 2010 food trends report ranked locally grown produce as a top foodservice trend. The supermarket industry generally is no stranger to promoting locally grown produce, putting retail produce departments in a strong position to capitalize on increasing consumer interest in locally grown foods. The trend has even gone “hyper-local” recently: A Whole Foods Market in New York City and a Budgen supermarket near London have planted rooftop produce gardens, with the Whole Foods garden in particular potentially able to provide as much as 10 percent of the store's produce.

When New York City's Eataly opened, it defied categorization, combining specialty retail, foodservice and culinary education under one roof. Italian-centric Eataly puts the spotlight on fresh produce via “vegetable butchers.” Shoppers can get menu ideas from the store's chefs; the chef then cuts produce items to order while the customer finishes shopping. Customer service is also king at Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets, which has service counters in all of its produce departments. The independent Fresh Market, based in Greensboro N.C., takes fresh to the extreme, focusing entirely on fresh produce and other perishables.

Bottom line: Today's foodservice headlines can offer a roadmap for retail success — especially when infused with fresh choices, quality, personal connections and customization — that can build your bottom line.

Initiative Taps Unrealized Potential of Produce in Foodservice

PMA and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) have recently found common ground for collaboration and business growth. PMA president and CEO Bryan Silbermann and Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of Washington-based NRA, identified opportunities to increase fresh produce use in foodservice, to help consumers achieve healthier lifestyles. From those early meetings, the vision for the Foodservice 2020 Initiative was born, to soon include the International Foodservice Distributors Association.

These associations gathered a group of senior executives from the produce, foodservice and distribution industries to review new research exposing the opportunities for — and barriers to — using more fresh produce in foodservice. The research and “think-tank” meeting were sponsored by Markon Cooperative and Paramount Farms. Those “think tank” executives set an ambitious goal to double the use of fresh produce in foodservice by 2020, focusing on five strategies:

■ Reimagining the foodservice experience, with produce having a stronger presence through its field-to-fork story

■ Increasing consumer confidence in fresh produce, including product safety, trust and integrity

■ Demonstrating social responsibility by balancing the needs of people, the planet and profitability

■ Fostering closer collaboration among the industry sectors, including operators, distributors and grower/shippers

■ Fostering closer collaboration with government and other stakeholders Today, the associations are focusing on delivering education needed to break down the barriers to using more fresh produce in foodservice. They're reaching out to culinary educators, to influence how culinary professionals are trained and encourage them to explore all of the opportunities that fresh produce offers to the plate. They're also similarly educating foodservice operators.

The education will continue at PMA's 2011 Foodservice Conference & Exposition in July (see related story). To view reports on the initial research and think-tank meeting report — the latter of which offers ideas on how to increase your foodservice sales at retail — visit


PMA offers world-class events featuring professional development and unparalleled networking. Markyour calendar to attend these upcoming PMA events; for more information, visit www.

Fresh Connections

Minneapolis, May 11: Food Safety and Traceability St. Louis, June 1 Cincinnati, July 21

PMA brings our signature networking and education to your backyard.

Foodservice Conference & Exposition

July 29-31: Monterey, Calif.

Make the most of fresh produce opportunities in your foodservice business.

Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition

Oct. 14-17: Atlanta

Find your next big success story at the United States' best produce trade show, networking and professional-development event.

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