PMA Fresh Summit Draws Record 22K+ Attendees

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PMA Fresh Summit Draws Record 22K+ Attendees


More than 22,400 members of the global fresh produce and floral industry are settling back to their home bases after four productive days in Anaheim, Calif., for the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) 2014 Fresh Summit. In addition to record attendance, this year’s annual global produce pageant also topped the charts on the show floor, which was packed with visitors making their way through two days of a swarmed expo floor that featured an impressive 1,090 exhibiting companies occupying 265,300 net square feet.

Focusing heavily on inspiring consumers – particularly kids – to elevate consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, a series of education sessions reinforced the message with topics revolving around global trade, talent management and food safety. Attendees who took the conversation online with social media made history for the fresh produce and floral industry when #FreshSummit was marked as one of the most popular social media conversations around the world all day. 

While the expo floor brimmed with new products, packaging trends, technologies and innovations, educational workshops featured a series of topics delivered by industry and business experts, including Let’s Move! Executive Director and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Sam Kass, U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Foods Mike Taylor and California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross.

Next year’s PMA Fresh Summit Convention and Expo will be held Oct.23-25, 2015, in Atlanta, Ga., additional information for which can be found here.

Additional highlights of PMA's 2014 Fresh Summit appear below.

Spezzano Honored With 2014 Robert L. Carey Leadership Award

Veteran produce industry leader Dick Spezzano, president of Spezzano Consulting, received the 2014 Robert L. Carey Leadership Award, in recognition of his outstanding leadership and an uncommon commitment to PMA and the produce industry.

“This is a man who epitomizes what it means to give back to the industry in which he’s worked for over 50 years,” said last year’s winner Jay Pack, while presenting the award to Spezzano. “He believes in reaching out to youth – to build healthy eating habits early and to attract the best and the brightest young talent. Together with his wife Carole, he’s also set the bar by making a legacy gift to the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent.  Talk about the power of commitment.”

For his part, Spezzano said: "This award is very special to me as I was on the PMA board of directors for ten years while Bob was the association leader. Under Bob's leadership, I learned many things and especially the art of giving back to an industry that has been good to me."

Five Companies Honored for Packaging Excellence

More than 75 submissions from 56 companies vied for five 2014 PMA Impact Awards: Excellence in Packaging. A panel of judges, among which included Progressive Grocer's Meg Major, looked for products that lead as examples in produce and floral packaging, demonstrating originality with emphasis on connecting with consumers, safeguarding the product inside, sustaining the environment and improving supply chain efficiencies. Judges scored each entry in five areas: marketing, food safety, supply chain efficiency, sustainability excellence and consumer convenience excellence.

Winners of PMA's 2014 Impact Awards include:

  • CMI Columbia Marketing International: “GO GO” Fresh Cherry Package
  • Earthbound Farm: PowerMeal Bowls
  • Fresh Solutions Network: Side Delights Gourmet Petites
  • Mucci Farms: The New Pint
  • Wholly Guacamole: Wholly Guacamole Grab N Guac Box

Fresh Summit Best of Show Exhibitors

Four exhibitors were chosen by an anonymous 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:

  • Best of Show, in-line booth: Suja Juice, Booth 4639
  • Best of Show, island booth: Panera Bread Salad Dressings, Booth 1414
  • Best New Product Launch: Rhythm Superfoods, Booth 488
  • Best First-Time Exhibitor: Delallo Salad Savors, Booth 676

PMA Floral Marketer of the Year

Passion Growers’ VP of Sales and Marketing Sam Ferrara was named the 2014 PMA Floral Marketer of the Year at the annual floral reception. The award, now in its 34th year, recognizes an outstanding floral professional who has served the mass-market floral industry with dedication and distinction.

“Sam’s leadership and innovative thinking has guided the creation of new merchandising, products and technology that have made a difference where it matters most: in a retail environment selling more flowers to consumers,” said Joe Don Zetzsche, director of floral for H-E-B Blooms Floral Shops and 2013 Floral Marketer winner. “He believes we can always do more, never settles for status quo and always pushes to get ahead.”

Ferrara serves on the PMA Floral Council this year which represents 29 companies from across the floral supply chain. PMA’s focus on floral began in 1977, and the council’s focus includes a continued emphasis on consumer research, networking and education through a variety of events and a growing presence at Fresh Summit via dedicated workshop sessions and an expanding floral pavilion which doubled in size this year.

Focus on Inspiring Kids to Eat Healthier

Students from the Walker Junior High School in La Palma, Calif., participated in the 4th annual Sensory Experience Contest alongside Chef Mickey on Friday, Oct. 17, where they put 10 kid-friendly recipes to the test for flavor, aroma and presentation, among other criteria.

Two recipes were chosen as winners by the buyers and students, respectively:

  • Buyers’ Choice: Wholesum Family Farms: Wholesum Harvest Eggplant Vegetable Balls with Roma Tomato Sauce
  • Kids’ Choice: Wish Farms: Wish Farms Strawberry Blueberry Hazelnut Chocolate Flatbread

Marketing to children remained a focus of attention throughout the weekend and was a topic of discussion at the annual State of the Industry address delivered by PMA CEO Bryan Silbermann and PMA President Cathy Burns. The Innovations @ Work area also hosted a collection of products designed for children via the popular New Products Showcase special Just 4 Kids section.

Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass Joins ‘eat brighter!’ Discussion

Sam Kass, executive director of Let’s Move! and senior policy advisor for nutrition, joined a group of industry marketers on Friday afternoon for an "eat brighter!" town hall. The town hall was moderated by Todd Putman, chief commercial officer of Bolthouse Farms, and featured Derrick Jenkins, VP of produce and floral, Wakefern; Robert Verloop, EVP of marketing, Naturipe; and Donna Bogia, director of information and customer service, PMA.

Currently, more than 40 retailers representing more than 30,000 stores across the U.S. and Canada are supporting the "eat brighter!" movement. 

FDA’s Mike Taylor Addresses FSMA Proposals

In response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent release of four supplemental proposals under the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on produce safety, preventive controls for human food, foreign supplier verification programs and preventive controls for animal feed, PMA partnered with FDA to bring Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Foods Mike Taylor and Dr. Samir Assar, director of produce safety, to address these issues. Taylor and Assar were joined by panelists Walter Ram, VP of food safety of The Giumarra Companies; Courtney Parker, VP of salad quality and global food safety of Chiquita Fresh Express; and Mike Villaneva, technical director for California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement.

PMA will host a webinar to discuss the supplements on Monday, Nov. 3 at 12:30pm EDT/9:30am PT. This webinar is your opportunity to hear directly from FDA, ask questions and learn how you can positively affect change regarding these important FSMA rule proposals to assure that when these regulations are finalized and implemented they will best serve public health and food safety needs. FDA requests comments on the proposed approach and provisions by Dec. 15. 

PMA Selects Gov. Relations Firm

During the annual State of the Industry Address, PMA President Cathy Burns announced that Cornerstone Government Affairs, a Washington, D.C.-based public affairs firm, with the leadership of Hunt Shipman, will represent the association’s members on global industry issues. As a result of PMA’s new strategic plan announced late last year, the association is strengthening and restructuring its approach to addressing those issues that are most critical to the global produce industry like food safety, trade and consumption. This new focus, termed Issues Leadership, encompasses elements of government relations, public affairs and public relations to provide the industry with a solutions-based approach to shaping issues. Shipman and his team will provide critical expertise and communications approaches to bring value to PMA members.