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PMA Creates Transportation Task Force, Unveils Fresh Summit Keynoters

NEWARK, Del. -- Citing growing member concerns regarding transportation challenges, the Produce Marketing Association has established a transportation task force that will examine, and when possible, propose solutions for critical produce industry transportation issues.

PMA board members Bud Floyd of C.H. Robinson Worldwide and Bill Schuler of Castellini Co. will chair the committee, which came about as a result of a PMA member transportation-oriented focus group. The first order of business for the task force will be to analyze concerns raised by members, including driver shortages, the reluctance of some drivers to haul produce, the impact of government regulations, and the need for more efficient distribution patterns.

"Effective transportation is at the heart of a healthy produce and floral industry. Our
members ranked transportation as a top concern in the 2005 member needs analysis. Those concerns have also been reinforced by discussions in board meetings and were echoed by the focus group participants," said PMA executive committee chairman Steve Barnard, president, Mission Produce Inc.

PMA president Bryan Silbermann called the focus group results "a reality check for the produce industry. While we recognize that PMA can't resolve some of the transportation issues like rising fuel costs, the executive committee felt strongly that PMA can play a leadership role in providing the forum for our members across the supply chain, to discuss potential solutions to many of the issues discussed."

In addition to the Task Force, PMA plans to focus attention on transportation throughout its upcoming Fresh Summit convention and exposition in Atlanta.

The executive committee also approved funds to support a research proposal to develop best practices for the floral industry. The research will be conducted by Dr. Terril Nell, a well-known and respected floral industry expert at the University of Florida.

In other news, PMA says its Fresh Summit International Convention and Exposition, "The Heart and Soul of the Industry," is expected to attract over 17,000 attendees from 70 countries and 800 exhibitors Nov. 4-8 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

"We may be an industry steeped in tradition, but we also have our attention focused on the future. PMA's Fresh Summit reflects the heart and soul of our membership through a diverse program that offers buyers and sellers value they can connect to and take home from Atlanta," said Silbermann.

Jim Corby, v.p. of produce merchandising for Food Lion LLC and Fresh Summit committee chairman, noted, "Fresh Summit brings together buyers and sellers from throughout the supply chain. As a buyer, it has always provided me with excellent opportunities to meet the right suppliers and gather information and insight to solve my business challenges."

Additional program highlights include: Michael Treacy, author, consultant, and MIT professor, will talk about "Building Sustainable Market Leadership" at the Sunday breakfast general session.

Martha Rogers, Ph.D., Peppers & Rogers Group and adjunct professor, Duke University, will present "Real Impact: Maximizing Your 'Return on Customer' (ROC) to Take Customer Relationships to the Next Level."

Phil Lempert, supermarket and consumer trends analyst offers his unique perspective in his presentation "How Well Do You Understand Your Customers, and Theirs?"
Scott Adams, the creator of the wildly popular business comic, Dilbert, will engage attendees with "From Cubicles to Comics: A Journey of Success."
Detailed information on the Fresh Summit schedule and exhibitor list can be found on PMA's Fresh Summit Web site,
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