The use of technology, the future of fresh-cut products and innovative retail merchandising programs will be among the key topics at the upcoming 11th Annual Produce Conference, scheduled for June 25 to 28 in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Attendees will get an update on the role of Efficient Consumer Response in the produce department. ECR is an industry movement toward cutting costs and improving product selection by streamlining the distribution system. A session on implementing category management is also scheduled.
"The produce industry has been slow at adopting an analytical approach to our business," said conference chairman, Bob DiPiazza, vice president of produce operations for Dominick's Finer Foods, Northlake, Ill. "This conference will help produce executives develop a more analytical approach and develop tools to improve efficiency."
The conference is sponsored by four trade associations: the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del.; the United Fresh fruit and Vegetable Association, Alexandria, Va.; the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, and the National-American Wholesale Grocers' Association, Falls Church, Va.
In a seminar titled "Building Produce Consumption: Success Stories in Merchandising," a panel of retailers will present their most successful promotion, merchandising and display programs. Joe Lettery, produce manager at Triple A Super Markets, Weston, Mass., is one of the panelists and will discuss his apple promotions.
In a workshop, Roger Schroeder, vice president of produce for Hughes Family Markets, Irwindale, Calif., and Chris Nelson, chief executive officer of Ready Pac Produce, Irwindale, Calif., will share their views on the future of fresh-cut produce and offer tips on running a successful program.
Ed McLaughlin, assistant professor at Cornell University, will use the "Cornell Supermarkets Buyer Guide" as a basis for a workshop designed to give growers and shippers a better understanding of the role of the produce buyer.
The education sessions will conclude with a seminar titled, "A Look Into the Future," during which industry leaders will discuss their predictions regarding key issues facing the produce industry. Panel members will include: Joe Boskovich, vice president of Boskovich Farms, Oxnard, Calif.; Howard Marguleas, chairman and chief executive officer of Sun World International, Indio, Calif., and William Davila, president emeritus of Vons Cos., Arcadia, Calif.
In addition to the education sessions, the conference includes two afternoon tours, featuring fields, packing houses and processing facilities. Value-added products, such as salad, carrots and corn, will be included in the tours, as well as, cilantro, spinach, lettuce, leeks, carrots, radishes, green onions and avocados.