Produce Marketing Association's Cathy Burns and Lauren M. Scott Celebrate PMA Foodservice 2021 Outcome
NEWARK, DE - I cannot express how exciting it was to finally be able to mingle with produce suppliers and foodservice innovators at the 2021 Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Foodservice Conference & Expo last week! As the show kicked off for its 40th anniversary, the energy and enthusiasm of all those in attendance could be felt across the show floor as we all gathered to celebrate fresh produce.
“This was a memorable return for the produce and foodservice community after a very challenging time apart,” said Chief Executive Officer, Cathy Burns. “Real, innovative solutions to foodservice challenges were everywhere—on the expo floor, during roundtable discussions, at the receptions, and in the lobbies/bars! A special note of appreciation to our conference Chairs, Evan Nash and Nichole Towell, the committee, exhibitors, sponsors, and guests that brought this PMA conference to life. After this great gathering, I cannot wait to see everyone at Fresh Summit.”
The conference kicked off with a number of small group experiences on Wednesday, including a unique volunteer opportunity with PMA partner Brighter Bites, in which volunteers were tasked with packing bags of produce to distribute to local families. This effort also included recipes and innovative ideas for incorporating the ingredients into family meals, as noted in a press release. As a result, volunteers delivered 5,600 pounds of fresh produce to over 150 families.
On Wednesday evening, attendees enjoyed the Center for Growing Talent (CGT) Happy Hour and a Half, which reunited the industry to celebrate and thank the contributors to CGT Talent programs. On Thursday morning, PMA’s Chief Strategy and Membership Officer Lauren M. Scott hosted a General Session featuring a series of peer-to-peer problem solving discussions to address pressing industry questions, including how to address labor shortages, how to enhance collaboration, and more. To kick off this session, Scott led attendees through a reflection of trends and tips to manage the future of the foodservice industry.
“To say that Monterey was hopping with energy and ideas is an understatement,” Scott said. “I cannot thank the foodservice member leaders who generously shared their experiences and insights with me over the last 18 months and the dedicated Foodservice conference committee. Their ideas helped shape our program and will continue to guide this community’s promising path forward.”
During the general session, Foodservice Committee Co-Chairs Evan Nash of Johnson and Wales University and Nichole Towell of Duda Fresh Farms were recognized for their contributions to the sector, as well as the United Fresh Excellence in Foodservice Winners. To see a full list of these winners, click here.
Chef Shaun O’Neale, Owner and Executive Chef of Larrea in Las Vegas, Nevada, provided recognition of the best of this year’s Expo, awarding winners such as Driscoll’s for Best of Show and The Salad Farm as runner up.
Showcasing the success of the event, nearly 30 percent of this year’s attendance were buyers. To uplift the foodservice sector during a challenging time, PMA announced the Hosted Buyers Program, which allowed industry members the chance to contribute to bringing buyer companies to Monterey that may not have otherwise been able to attend.
To read more about the long-awaited industry event, read our recap here.
'Til next time, my friends!