NEWARK, Del. -- The Produce Marketing Association here is launching the industry's first technology conference geared specifically to the retail produce community.
The conference will be held April 11 to 13, 1996, at Info Mart, a high-technology convention center in Dallas, according to Duane Eaton, vice president of industry programs for PMA.
In its inaugural year, the conference will focus on information and communication technology, including such issues as category management and Efficient Consumer Response, as it relates to produce, Eaton said.
"Next year, the emphasis will be on something else," he added.
According to Bryan Silbermann, PMA's executive vice president, the conference was created to begin addressing one of the produce industry's biggest challenges for the future: to keep pace with the technology trends that promise to have significant effects on the conduct of business.
"We are working with Willard Bishop Consulting to refine the program. It will be a limited-attendance event, focusing on learning experiences rather than show-and-tell," Silbermann said. "We are aggressively pushing in this direction."
The conference will also feature a small trade show floor.
However, unlike most produce trade shows, participants will not simply wander the floor, going from booth to booth, said Eaton. At the technology conference, the booths will be set up like presentation theaters. Each presentation will start on a set schedule, so participants can see the technology in action, Eaton explained.
"This isn't geared toward [management information systems] people," he said. "It's geared toward management-level people. It will be really practical."
Eaton said the idea for the conference was hatched at a 1994 PMA board meeting, when a discussion arose about the lack of produce-specific technology conferences. The supermarket industry does boast several technology shows, but none that focus on fruits, vegetables and floral issues. The association is considering finding a co-sponsor for the event. However, that co-sponsor would most likely not be involved directly in the produce industry, he said.