Produce Industry Luminaries Lisa McNeece, Mark Munger, and Cathy Burns Discuss PMA Foodservice 2021
MONTEREY, CA - I did not realize how much I’ve missed human connection until I hit the trade show floor. The sounds of laughter and innovation echoed through the conference center as the Produce Market Association (PMA) Foodservice Conference and Expo 2021 got underway, providing a familiar comfort that many of us have longed for. But, don’t just take it from me; read on for exclusive industry insights and highlights from the long-awaited show.
Cathy Burns, Chief Executive Officer, Produce Marketing Association
“You could sense people’s energy, spirit, and enthusiasm to reconnect and support this industry which has faced so many challenges. Buyers and suppliers are addressing new ways to solve supply chain issues, and I am blown away by the amount of innovation I'm seeing. Labor is such a challenge for the foodservice industry, and you can tell the suppliers are trying to address that issue through value-added products. It’s about adding value to create efficiencies for foodservice buyers, and to ensure our products move toward the center of the plate. A lot of trends start in restaurants, so we have to protect what's happening in the foodservice industry, today and long into the future. We need to punch above our weight in order to drive fruit and vegetable consumption.”
PMA Foodservice 2021 marked the Produce Marketing Association’s 40th year hosting the event. The show brings together operators, distributors, buyers, grower/shippers, and solutions providers, all of whom bring unique expertise to the supply chain.
Utilizing the My Show Planner app as a directory, attendees were met with two days full of networking opportunities, product showcases, and, of course, good old-fashioned fresh produce fun. Things ramped up on day two, providing general sessions and peer-to-peer discussion groups as suppliers and buyers alike dug into this year’s variety of exhibitions.
Mark Munger, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, 4Earth Farms
"This year's foodservice conference reaffirms what a people-centric industry this is, and how relieved and excited people are to get back together. We're beginning to get back to normal, but I think it's going to be a new normal. These face-to-face events add tremendous value, but we’ve also learned the power of using virtual mediums to communicate. Now that we have both, I believe we will emerge from the pandemic as better collaborators than we were going into the pandemic. It is also exciting to see how PMA and United Fresh have already begun to collaborate together. We are beginning to see the power of this consolidation and the collective value that it’s going to bring our industry."
It wouldn't be a produce party if we didn't bring our competitive edge, and this year's exhibitors came out with a vengeance. Here are the companies that took home top honors in the Best of Show awards, which were selected by guest judge, Chef Shaun O’Neale:
- Best Product Promo: Rijk Zwaan in booth #307 for its Tender Stem Kale
- Best of Show winner: Driscoll’s in booth #220
- 2nd place, Best of Show: The Salad Farm in booth #811
Congrats to these exhibition all-stars! We can't wait to see what's next.
Lisa McNeece, Vice President of Foodservice and Industrial Sales, Grimmway Farms
“PMA Foodservice brought a pleasant show of familiar faces. There was a steady flow of visitors throughout the event and it was wonderful to reconnect with our partners in-person. A perfect reboot for the future of PMA events!”
Friends, it was so wonderful to see your faces and reconnect again. We’ll see you next time!