Inside PMA's 2018 Fresh Summit

Inside PMA's 2018 Fresh Summit

ORLANDO, FL - Orlando, Florida, was exceptionally warm as produce members gathered from around the world for PMA Fresh Summit, and I’d like to think it might have been our industry that brought the heat.

Nearly 21,000 attendees turned out for the event, with particularly strong participation from retailers, according to PMA.

John Castro, Director of Category Management and Research, Duda Farm Fresh Foods"The show was well attended as usual, with motivating speakers that left you with something to take back to the office and share with your team. The new shift in days allowed for better attendance of customers as well as time to enjoy the show floor," John Castro, Director of Category Management and Research for Duda Fresh Farms, shared with me.

Decision makers from Giant/Martins, Sendik’s, Wakefern, Food Parade, Albertsons, Kroger, and many more perused the rows of new innovations, connecting with growers and suppliers up until the lights turned down to signal the end of 2018’s Fresh Summit.

"Let the show begin! Continue to use #FreshSummit so we can see you on your journey across the floor." @PMA

While each day found a point to devote to education, it was those who arrived Thursday that were treated to everything from turning today’s disruptions into tomorrow’s opportunities, to a number of relevant Experience Extensions. Speakers included PMA CEO Cathy Burns, Wegmans’ VP of Produce and Floral Dave Corsi, Oppy’s Executive VP and COO Doug Grant, and Tony Award winning actor and musician Leslie Odom, Jr., among several others. 

Karin Gardner, Director of Corporate Communications, Oppy“As always, Fresh Summit delivered a valuable experience filled with really great energy,” Karin Gardner, Oppy’s Director of Corporate Communications, commented. “From thought-provoking general sessions to a pair of action-packed days on the show floor, we had the opportunity to learn and connect with stakeholders, strengthen friendships, and grow as an industry. A personal highlight, for me, was being more involved in the Career Pathways program and gaining a deeper insight to the great work being done by the Center for Growing Talent.”

"That's a wrap for #FreshSummit this year, but we will be back! We hope you all had a wonderful experience. Keep tagging us in pictures so we can relive the excitement until next time!" @PMA

One of those general sessions was Friday morning’s breakfast, when Bruce Taylor, Founder and CEO of Taylor Farms, and Peyton Manning took the stage—talk about a winning team! The Forum for the Future: Lessons in Leadership Both on and Off the Field tied Manning’s Super Bowl success to business growth. A resonating moment for me, and for those I spoke with, was his advice to always be open to learning, commenting that “everyone needs a coach.”

And then the Expo itself began.  

Cathy Burns, CEO, Produce Marketing Association“While it was a record-setting year for Fresh Summit, what I am most proud of is the reinvention we began this year with the program. We had great thought partners in the volunteers on the Fresh Summit Committee, and the staff took their feedback and recommendations to heart and worked to transform the look and feel of Fresh Summit into what you experienced," Cathy said. "To see exhibitors and attendees connecting in the sessions and on the Expo floor and feel their energy and excitement sustained over the course of the event was amazing.”

On Saturday morning, early risers had an opportunity to support the women of our industry with the annual Women’s Fresh Perspectives breakfast, a particularly moving event in light of Executive Director of CGT by PMA’s Margi Prueitt retiring next February. If you cried when Cathy surprised attendees by taking the stage to speak about Margi’s contributions to CGT by PMA, to Women’s Fresh Perspectives, and the world in general, you weren’t alone. 

"Following our nose to the #Floral Marketplace! #freshsummit" @PMA

“If you’ve ever been within a mile of Margi, you know the passion that she has for attracting industry talent. You can see it in her heart and her soul,” Cathy shared with the crowd, speaking about how Margi has been instrumental in key programs to the produce industry’s future. “The seeds she’s planted…not just in Women’s Fresh Perspectives but for Career Pathways, which we just hit our thousand student mark this year.”

Julie Krivanek, Founder of Krivanek Consulting, then treated us to an interview with Olympic Skier and World Champion Lindsey Vonn, a conversation that was both fun and inspiring.

Lindsey Vonn, Skier, Olympian and World Champion“In athletics, and in work in general, the most talented aren’t necessarily the most successful,” Lindsey told Julie and attendees of her achievements. “It’s who’s willing to put in the most work.”

All over this year’s Fresh Summit were these nuggets of business, work, and connection, as industry members new and seasoned enjoyed the expansive show floor.

Julie DeWolf, Director of Retail Marketing, Sunkist“As a long-standing and proud exhibitor at Fresh Summit, we can easily say that it continues to be one of the strongest events on our calendar to connect with our trading partners and other influential members of our industry. The educational opportunities are outstanding and the networking events are well-timed so that all can attend. Traffic was heavy and meaningful throughout the show and we are huge supporters of PMA and its efforts to unite our industry,” Julie DeWolf, Director of Retail and Shopper Marketing for Sunkist Growers, shared with me.

SUNSET® Events and Internal Branding Manager, Nancy Pickersgill, ranked this summit among the best.

Nancy Pickersgill, Events and Internal Branding Manager, Mastronardi Produce"This was one of our greatest shows yet! We had so many exciting new products and innovations to share at Fresh Summit, including our SUNSET® WOW™ Berries, Sugar Bombs™, and Shazam!™  Shishito Peppers, that were very well received at the show. Our fresh samples served up by our Culinary Director Chef Roger Mooking were a hit! It’s great to have face time with so many customers and industry professionals and the PMA brings everyone to one location for us to accomplish this."

Nearly 21,000 attendees turned out for the event, with particularly strong participation from retailers

There were also, of course, a number of awards and titles to be fought for, and this show was no exception.

Awards on the Floor

  • Best Packaging Promo: Smabrailo Packaging 
  • Best First Time Exhibitor: Fresh Cravings LLC
  • Best Island Booth: Triple H Produce
  • Best In Line Booth: Snack It Forward
  • Best Overall Product Promo: Shenadoah Growers

Jay Pack Cultivating Our Future Award

Rich Dachman, VP of Sysco Corp.

Women’s Catalyst Award from Center for Growing Talent

Dawn Gray, President of Dawn Gray Global Consulting

Produce Marketing Association’s 2018 Floral Marketer of the Year

Carlos Oramas, CEO and Co-Founder of Gems Group, Inc.

Congratulations to the winners of these prestigious titles, and to PMA on another successful Fresh Summit. Stay tuned for more coverage from AndNowUKnow’s experiences on the floor, our PMA Picks, and more.