Inside PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans with Cathy Burns, Emily Murracas, and Sarah Deaton
NEW ORLEANS, LA - As produce purveyors and makers descended upon the tempting backdrop of the New Orleans experience, it doesn’t suffice it to say that the 2017 PMA Fresh Summit was a hit. Strong retail presence spanning multiple markets nationally and internationally, over a thousand exhibitors, and more than 19,500 in attendance are just some of the markers of the powerful presence the event provided.
“We are thrilled that our industry continues to see Fresh Summit as such an important gathering place for the fresh produce and floral communities,” Cathy Burns shared with me as we discussed the last few days. “Thanks to the scores of volunteer leaders and exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, and members who worked so hard to make this a place of connections—to people, ideas, products, services, and more.”
In addition to strong numbers in retail (off-hand I recall bumping into team members from Sprouts Farmers Market, Schnucks, Loblaw, Longo’s, and Sam’s Club among several others) global participation was exceptional according to the PMA team.
The other big factor to tie into a hit show is, naturally, the products. The industry certainly turned out its best and brightest.
“Creativity and innovation are two words that come to mind when I look at this year’s Fresh Summit,” Cathy reflected. “Certainly we see this at the expo, where I’m so impressed with the products and services our exhibitors have on display. And I see it in the keynote presentations and workshop speakers who share their insights with the rest of us. It’s great to see everyone snapping pictures of the slides and swarming the speakers at the end of the workshop to get additional ideas.”
Amongst the 1,000+ exhibitors, five companies in particular took home honors for Best Overall Product Promo and Best Packaging Promo, as well as Best of Show.
- Best of Show: Zespri Kiwi Fruit
- Best First-Time Exhibitor: Obrigado
- Best of Show: Ripe
- Best Overall Product Promo: Southern Specialties
- Best Packaging Promo: Mucci Farms
Upon hearing the news of the team’s victory, Zespri’s Marketing Manager, Sarah Deaton, tells me, “We are so excited to receive this award. So much effort and planning went into our PMA booth. Our brand was represented through our team spirit, colorful booth graphics, and engaging staff that helped make the show a success!“
Congratulations to Southern Specialties, which was presented Fresh Summit’s Best Overall Product Promo award. Judged by anonymous retail panel, the PMA desired the purpose for the award was to encourage marketing innovation.
“I was very excited to be a judge, and to see the latest our industry has to offer,” said Walmart Stores, Inc. Senior Director of Global Sourcing Ron McCormick in a press release. The contest entries, he noted, demonstrate that “product packaging helps sell products, and is critical to our industry’s success."
The new Best Packaging Promo award, designed to encourage packaging innovation by recognizing pioneering ways that packaging is being used to market fresh produce and floral, was awarded to Mucci Farms for its Veggies to Go™ on-the-go snacks for kids. The product features new easy-snap packaging, and also brought home the Kids Choice Award for Sensory Experience Contest.
"PMA Fresh Summit 2017 was a 'WIN WIN' all around for our entire team. Between our award for Best Packaging Promo for Mucci’s Veggies to Go and the incredible insights and opportunities for building and growing relationships, PMA offered the perfect platforms to showcase our latest innovations while continually learning both professionally as well as personally," Mucci’s Marketing Manager Emily Murracas tells me. "There are a lot of moving parts to creating and executing a successful product and everyone on our team had a hand in creating our award-winning line. To be recognized for that hard work is incredibly rewarding. We were grateful for the resources offered, and in particular, the line-up of speakers this year was both inspirational and extremely empowering."
Looking forward, PMA incoming Chair Jin Ju Wilder of LA & SF Specialty announced on Saturday that bringing together the global produce and floral community to “grow a healthier world” is the new vision for the Association and the Center for Growing Talent by PMA.
“There is a lot in the new vision, and it resonates with me because it’s inspirational and aspirational,” Wilder said in a separate release. “It’s clear and compelling. What’s different is how that vision will shape how we deliver on our missions.”
Additionally, she noted that PMA will continue to connect, inform, and deliver industry solutions to enhance PMA members’ prosperity while the Center will continue its focus on attracting, developing, and retaining talent.
I know better to doubt that next year could top this one, however difficult that might seem. So instead I will say that I cannot wait to see how the team does it for 2018!
While we may no longer be in NOLA, we still have more to come from the floor, so stay tuned to AndNowUKnow for more exciting coverage of the 2017 Fresh Summit.