Inside the 2019 CPMA Expo
MONTREAL, QC - A new favorite phrase I hope to see more of is “produce viral,” the description President for Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) Ron Lemaire gave for #CPMA2019 trending nationally—a new measure of expo success I look forward to seeing more of.
“Right now CPMA2019 is trending across Canada. Can you imagine that? Little hashtag of CPMA2019 is national,” Ron told us opening day of the show. “We wouldn’t be national without you guys getting online and pushing us out.”
It’s no wonder really, with hundreds of exhibitors and even more in attendance at the Palais des Congrès for CPMA’s Annual Expo, April 2nd through 4th.
And between the buzz on CPMA's ap and Twitter feed it was apparent that the industry was doing it’s social media part to let the world know produce people were in Montreal, QC.
“CPMA is always an excellent opportunity for us to interact with our customers from both a business and personal perspective. It’s also a great opportunity for us to have direct interactions with store managers and consumers and get their feedback on our product and new innovations,” Highline Mushrooms Director of Sales and Marketing Jane Rhyno tells me. “We look forward to being a part of the show every year!”
The enthusiasm and benefits crossed state and country lines, as Dan Canales, Senior VP of Sales, Marketing, and Processing for Salinas, California's Ippolito International, summed up my feelings perfectly.
"Great show and wonderful city! CPMA creates an environment and agenda to enhance current relationships and establish new ones," he shared.
Amidst the amazing opportunities to unite and reunite business relationships throughout the industry were a number of keynotes and relevant speakers. Justin Kingsley, Creative Artist and Entrepreneur, resonated strongly with attendees—I heard more than one reference to Blockbuster failing to recognize the early opportunity of Netflix after his presentation. Likewise, A Taste of Disruption lived up to its title in giving guests an interactive sample of how innovation, digital, and analytics can not only apply to their business but improve it.
Even during the show Learning Lounges and a Dietitians Session offered insightful opportunities at every turn.
And the introduction of new offerings didn’t stay on the floor of the convention. Ron spoke to attendees about innovations CPMA has created for its members to access for free—a Food Waste tool, which the association’s President noted has helped those already using it see an up to 30% shift in business, it’s own produce innovation hub, and what he explained as “the first produce AI.”
“We sat down with a company recognizing there’s a data gap in Canada,” Ron explained. “We will be launching for the first time in produce anywhere an AI system specifically to understand and ask questions about our sector.”
Tech was definitely an apparent enhancement added to the CPMA experience this year, particularly at the annual After Party where we were all handed headphones and experienced what I can only describe as a silent disco—if you had headphones on you could dance and enjoy, off you could network and converse!
There were so many components to this year’s schedule, coming together for a unique experience.
Awards and Accolades
Of course the industry can’t be brought together without spotlighting standouts in both products and people. Congratulations are in order for:
- Ryan Goad: 2019 Mary Fitzgerald Award recipient
- Bernadette Hamel: 2019 CPMA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
- SUNSET® Mastronardi, Organic Angel Sweet: Best Organic Product Award Winner
- Mann Packing, Caulilini: Best New Product Award Winner
- Mucci Farms, cutecumber Poppers: Freggie Approved Award Winner
- Schur®Star, ZipPop: Best Packaging Award Winner
- Earth Fresh: Winner of Best Island Booth
From a nail-biting Half-Your-Plate Hockey Classic that went to a shoot-out in overtime, to insights from inside and outside our industry in disruptive sessions, and of course plenty of fun and networking, this was certainly a CPMA for new ideas, technology, and seeing opportunities in the challenges of providing the world with fresh produce. I can only imagine what 2020 has in store. Meet you in Toronto!