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Behind-the-Scenes of CPMA's 91st Annual Convention in Calgary

Behind-the-Scenes of CPMA's 91st Annual Convention in Calgary

CALGARY, AB - Over the past week, the AndNowUKnow team and I were lucky enough to attend the 91st Annual Convention and Trade Show, and the last in Calgary, Alberta. From April 12 through the 14th, top growers, suppliers, foodservice members, and retailers descended upon the show floor to talk how to innovate the industry and how to get consumers to increase their produce consumption. With over 230 exhibitors and nearly 3,000 attendees from around the world including members of Walmart, Costco, Loblaw, Sobeys, and more, this year’s theme of “Growing Strong” certainly resonated across all sectors of the produce industry.

Mike Furi, Manager of Procurement and Pricing, The Grocer People Ltd.“CPMA has been serving the produce industry for 91 years, which is a true sign of strength and dedication in this thriving community,” explained Mike Furi, Manager of Procurement and Pricing at The Grocery People Ltd. as he addressed the convention at this year’s Delegate and Companion Breakfast. “The opportunity to come together to communicate and collaborate around the challenges and changes within our industry is made possible by this organization of dedicated staff.”

Arlene Dickinson, Business Woman and Former Star of Dragon's Den

After kicking off with the Chair’s Welcome Reception at Calgary’s Telus Sparks Science Center, attendees were welcomed Tuesday morning at the Delegate and Companion Breakfast by Keynote Speaker and former star of Canada’s Dragon’s Den, Arlene Dickinson. Arlene shared with the industry a moving and personal account of her journey towards being one of Canada’s most renowned independent marketing communications entrepreneurs, including her life as an immigrant from South Africa and her innovative approach to doing business.

Jean Rickli, Retail Advisor, J.C. Williams Group

Later that day, guests were met by Lunch Keynote Speaker, Jean Rickli, Global Retail Advisor at consulting firm J.C. Williams Group, who gave a thorough account of the latest global retail concepts and innovation trends. Jean’s presentation included everything from Whole Foods’ Brooklyn location and its partnership with rooftop greenhouse Gotham Greens, to Cru, a Brussels-based food store that uses tablets to provide consumers with transparency about the products they are buying and a cashier-less shopping experience.

Oleen Smethurst with the Chelan Fresh team.

No matter who was speaking at CPMA’s numerous educational events this week, the discussion always came full circle back to one question—‘how do we increase produce consumption?’. From the show’s four Learning Lounges featuring knowledge from voices like Costco Canada’s Oleen Smethurst and Loblaw’s Frank Pagliaro, to CPMA’s President himself, Ron Lemaire, driving up international health and increasing sales was at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Ron Lemaire, President, CPMA

“It’s in our hands and the momentum is moving,” explained CPMA President Ron Lemaire as he talked about increasing produce consumption at Thursday’s Awards Brunch. “We keep talking about our community and being produce ambassadors—its up to us to take it, bring it back home, and drive the bus. We have the power to make change, and with the mechanisms are in place to work with our partners to build the community beyond just produce.”

Among everything happening on the vibrant and productive trade show floor, a slew of prestigious awards were presented at CPMA’s 91st Annual Convention. From exciting new products to inspiring individuals, the lineup of awards included:

Best Booth Award:

  • Peak of the Market

Peak of the Market

The company donated over 300,000 pounds of produce from its in-booth Plinko game.

Best New Product Award:

  • Highline Mushrooms’ Mushroom Medleys

Highline Mushrooms

Freggie-Approved Product Award:

  • Mucci Farms’ Mucci Smuccies Strawberries

Mucci Farms

Fresh Health Award:

  • Delta, BC-based BC Fresh Vegetables

BC Fresh CEO Murray Driediger (left) and Brian Faulkner (right) being presented the Fresh Health Award by CPMA's Sue Lewis (center)

Mary FitzGerald Award:

  • Jennifer Harris, Director of Sales and Marketing for Mid Isle Farms

Mis Isle Farms

CPMA Lifetime Achievement Award:

  • Tom Byttynen, Founder of Thomas Fresh

Thomas Fresh

Mimmo Franzone, Director of Produce and Floral for Longo’s

When it comes down to it, I think Longo’s Director of Produce and Floral, Mimmo Franzone, said my thoughts about this year’s CPMA best. “I always have a great time every year I attend CPMA. It was an excellent show and a great way to connect with our partners in the industry,” shared Mimmo. “Well done Calgary, and see you all in Toronto!”

For more on all the happenings at this year’s convention, including our CPMA yearbook, writers’ picks from the floor, and more, keep coming back to your friends at AndNowUKnow.


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