CPMA Convention and Trade Show Wraps Up; Ron Lemaire, Greg Palmer, and More Comment

CPMA Convention and Trade Show Wraps Up; Ron Lemaire, Greg Palmer, and More Comment

VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA - Rain City did not disappoint as our industry made its way to the Northwest to celebrate and explore Canadian Produce Marketing Association's (CPMA) 2024 Expo. With a strong international showing and a deep local pride, it was an incredible gathering of fresh prowess.

Before cutting the ribbon on the show floor itself, CPMA President, Ron Lemaire, delivered the State of the Fresh Produce Industry address honing in on the concept and reality of resilience amid a shrinking world. Highlighting how there is no sector like ours, he reflected on what fresh produce has faced and what’s to come.

Ron Lemaire, President, Canadian Produce Marketing Association
Ron Lemaire, President, Canadian Produce Marketing Association

“Resilience is not mere survival, it’s thriving against the odds,” he said, reflecting on the keys to overcoming what our industry is against. The leader shared that collaborating across sectors, communicating with and among each other, and adaptability to coming changes, are how we do this. “The concept of navigating uncharted territories is not new to the produce industry but part of its DNA. There is no sector like ours that needs to adapt in some form daily. When confronted with challenges, we recalibrate routes, forge new partnerships, and ensure that the lifeblood of our industry flows undeterred. This skill allows our industry to feed this nation and drives success in putting food on the tables in Canadian households.”

While it has been, he said, a year of turbulence, there is also unwavering hope. It was on this note he welcomed the international buyers’ panel.

An international retail panel gave three points of insight across needs and opportunities in the industry

Together, Sprouts Farmers Markets’ David Dudley, Grocery Outlet’s Daniel Bell, and Costco Wholesale USA’s John Haycox took the stage to discuss differentiation, the true importance of data, and a pain point each could see as areas of opportunity for the industry.

Covering a range of footprints and retail approaches, together they offered an interesting perspective for CPMA attendees on the U.S. and international markets.

Canadian Produce Marketing Association President Ron Lemaire shared his State of The Industry Address (Photo credit: Canadian Produce Marketing Association)

Also kicking off the first day of the event was inspiration from speaker Cassie Campbell-Pascall, author, former captain and hockey pro, and current analyst for ESPN and a Special Advisor for the PWHL. It was an inspiring opening to hear from someone who, as CPMA observed, rewrote history and created a pathway for women in sports.

This was the mindset as attendees entered business sessions to find potential new paths to blaze, whether in implementing sustainable packaging strategies or exploring the future of marketing with AI.

Needless to say, we had much to discuss and consider as we all made our way to the entrance of day one, where we were met not only with a showcase of new products and an expansive floorplan of exhibitors but also an Innovation Zone and learning lounges amid the show floor buzz.

CPMA President Ron Lemaire sat down with Lifetime Achievement Award winner Murray Driediger

Hours flew by as everyone converged and connected; it seemed like no time at all before we found ourselves either at the Young Professionals Networking Reception or Women in Produce Networking Reception—both of which saw an incredibly strong turnout.

This did serve as a strong barometer for the event as a whole. Every itinerary offering was taken up as the industry sought to greet friends, customers, and colleagues new and old, so that even the newest additions to the industry saw the passion and laughter that happens amid the challenges.

Over the two days of exhibiting, parties, and opportunities, there was plenty to take home in memories and possibilities.

Awards & Honors

Many exhibitors were enthusiastic to shine, and it certainly showed. A few stood out among the rest and snagged honorable titles. Congratulations to these key recognitions:

  • Best Snackable Product: Taylor Farms Snack Packs
  • Best Organic Product: WINDSET FARMS® Eco Paper
  • Packaging Innovation: Mucci Farms
  • Best New Product: Earthfresh Farms Steamed Fresh Vegetables
  • Fresh Health Award Winner: City Wide Produce
  • Young Professional Award Winner: Jessica Levac, Bellemont Powell
  • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner: Murray Driediger, BC Fresh
  • Produce Champion: Kody Blois, Member of Parliament for Kings–Hants
Congratulations to Mastronardi Produce® on winning Best Island Booth for CPMA 2024

Voices From the Show Floor

Greg Palmer, Procurement Director—Root Vegetable, Loblaws Companies

Greg Palmer, Procurement Director in Produce, Loblaws Companies
Greg Palmer, Procurement Director—Root Vegetables, Loblaws Companies

“CPMA is such a fun show. I am always glad to show off Canadian suppliers and the innovation we develop. With the amount of fresh produce we consume in this country, it’s no surprise to see the amount of new products and packaging showcased at this show!”

Paul Mastronardi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mastronardi Produce®

Paul Mastronardi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mastronardi Produce®
Paul Mastronardi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mastronardi Produce®

“The CPMA is a special show for us since it happens in our home country. We had such a positive reception from our partners, and they shared our excitement for our new innovation items, in particular our Bahama Bombs™ and Peppy’s Peppers. Overall, it was a great show and we are so proud to bring home the award for Best Island Booth, a reflection of our team’s dedication to flavorful and immersive experiences at these events.”

John Anderson, Chair, Chief Executive Officer, and Managing Partner, Oppy

John Anderson, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Managing Partner, Oppy
John Anderson, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Managing Partner, Oppy

“This year’s CPMA marks a proud moment as we welcome the industry to Oppy’s birthplace for the first time since 2018. Hosting from our hometown allows us to shine a special spotlight on the inspiring stories of our grower-partners from the Fraser Valley. It’s an honor to share their innovation and dedication to the land, showcasing what makes this region particularly magical. Thank you to the association for organizing another exceptional show, where connection remains at the forefront."

As spring rain ushered us out of the amazing setting that is Vancouver, it certainly did not dampen the energy that was CPMA 2024. With too much to fit into one story, we look forward to sharing even more in the coming days of what this incredible sector of our industry has to offer, so stay tuned!

Companies in this Story


Based in Ottawa, Ontario, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) is a not-for-profit organization that…