NEWARK, Del. - Thousands of retailers, vendors, brokers, grower-shippers and other folks who work in the produce industry will find plenty of new products, packaged in new ways at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit trade show this year.
The industry's answer to convenience, the buzzword in food industry circles for years, will be on display on the show floor at the San Diego Convention Center. Exhibitors will show off the latest products formulated to be portable, easily cooked or ready-to-eat. Many companies also have been working to improve the flavor and taste of fruits to satisfy demands for consistency, so those products will be showcased as well.
"The industry as a whole is stepping up to the plate, literally and figuratively," said Bryan Silbermann, president of the Produce Marketing Association here. "We've got to do a better job of meeting consumers' taste expectations. I fully expect that to be the underlying message for a lot of exhibitors."
One new feature this year is a pre-conference fresh produce training session for menu developers and food-service distributors. In previous years, the session has targeted grower-shippers. The change reflects PMA's growing focus on the food-service channel, Silbermann said.
"This is geared toward food preparation people rather than retail executives," he said. "If we get retail people, my hunch would be they would be people in the region involved in culinary [programs]."
This year's show is so popular that exhibition space is completely sold out. PMA is maintaining a wait list for space, Silbermann said. Attendees may notice more floral exhibitors on the floor. Close to 90 floral companies will be represented, compared to 72 exhibitors last year.
"PMA has been focusing more on floral overall in the last few years," Silbermann said, adding the trade group has upgraded its programming in response to feedback from retailer members. "A lot more people are seeing the value of getting their products in front of produce executives. We're drawing more floral executives to Fresh Summit as well, especially when you go to a place like San Diego where you have so many floral producers, importers and distributors."
On the educational side, Fresh Summit will feature new sessions that will touch on key issues facing the industry, including transportation and trucking challenges, supply chain technology, the social responsibility movement, marketing produce and floral items, cold-chain management, the emerging Russian market and the safety of fresh-cut fruit. A panel of produce department managers will talk about consumer demands and strategies for building sales in the stores, while a separate panel of menu developers will discuss the challenges that keep them from incorporating more fresh produce on their menus.
Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition
When: Oct. 20-24
Where: San Diego
By the Numbers: More than 17,000 people, including more than 800 exhibitors, are expected at Fresh Summit. The show traditionally has a sizeable international presence, and this year is no exception. Buyers and suppliers from more than 70 countries will be on hand.