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PMA Fresh Summit Rocks Record-setting Attendance


In an era of ever-tighter budgets and leaner corporate teams, industry trade shows have been steadily losing their luster with the masses.

But such is decidedly not the case with the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention and Expo, which is fresh off a record-breaking show in Atlanta over the weekend that drew 19,332 attendees from 63 countries to the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

In its 66th year, PMA posted the highest attendance at this year's fresh produce trade parade by surpassing the previous East Coast attendance record of 18,284 set in 2010, when the annual global event was held in Orlando. Buyer numbers tallied 3,380 – the highest for an East Coast Fresh Summit since 2011 – as the fresh produce industry continues to ride a wave of growth.

The expo hall was brimming with crowds from start to finish, with 1,060 exhibiting companies occupying 267,400 net square feet of new products, trends, technologies and innovations. Many exhibitors called show traffic “the best ever,” which was further validated for the second consecutive year on Twitter, where #FreshSummit fast became a top trending social media conversation around the world.

Happening Homecoming

“Fresh Summit marks the annual homecoming for the produce and floral industry,” said Russ Mounce, VP/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.”

With topics like ethical sourcing, sustainability and variety, Mounce called on the industry "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. Capping that effort was the unveiling of a new strategic alliance with the Entertainment Resource & Marketing Association (ERMA), which brings together the produce industry and entertainment marketing professionals to make fresh produce center stage in television shows, movies and online entertainment with product placements and prominent references.

The 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.

First Lady Beams in With Kudos

The call for continued demand creation culminated with a congratulatory video from First Lady Michelle Obama, who thanked the industry for its outstanding work to promote fruits and vegetables while pausing to publicly commend those which are participating in both the eat brighter! and FNV initiatives.

“I want to thank all of you for your outstanding work to promote fruits and vegetables across this country,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “Together we’re making the healthy choice the easy choice for families. And, we’re showing the power of marketing to promote healthier products, and the results have been beyond anything we could have imagined.”

On the expo floor, four first-time exhibitors were chosen by a panel of industry experts for the “best of show” contest, whose booths best generated attendee excitement while encouraging exhibitors to keep innovation and effectiveness at the top of their exhibits. Best of show winners included:

  • 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.

Next year’s Fresh Summit Convention and Expo will be held Oct. 14-16, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. For more information, visit

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