If you had a chance to experience the largest trade show for fresh produce in the world, would you go? Two years ago I jumped at the chance to attend the Produce Marketing Associations’ Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA even though I had never been before. This year I was hoping to go again, so when I had the chance to apply for a media pass as a blogger, I signed right up!
“With 20,000 attendees and 900 exhibitors from over 60 countries, Fresh Summit is where contacts are formed, trends are revealed, ideas are exchanged and careers are made. ” PMA
The Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit conference is where every segment of the produce and floral supply chain comes together. Retailers, Industry Suppliers, Wholesalers, Grower-shippers, and Importers/Exporters met in Anaheim, California from Oct. 17 to 19. The conference began with a day for education including workshops in Global Connections, Science and Technology, Talent Management, and new this year: Floral Industry. General sessions offered sponsored breakfasts with presentations by inspiring leaders and speakers. The Expo Hall had an overwhelming presentation of products and services, with opportunities to taste foods, talk to representatives, learn about new products coming to market, and discover amazing information about how our foods are grown, harvested, packaged, and sold in stores. Events and parties continued throughout the weekend. This year the PMA Fresh Summit 2014 was a huge celebration for the produce industry.
I knew I wanted to be there this year, as I had attended Fresh Summit 2012 in Anaheim , Ca. with a group of bloggers invited by the Idaho Potato Commission. Last year’s Fresh Summit was held in New Orleans, so I couldn’t go. This year it was back in Anaheim and I knew I didn’t want to miss, so I applied to be a blogger with Kitchen Play’s #TeamFreshSummit, organized by Casey Benedict. Our team would provide social media reporting during the conference, as well as working with particular sponsors.
Food bloggers flew in from all over the USA to work with Team Fresh Summit. We all met up on Thursday evening for …what else…a party!
That evening gave us all a chance to get acquainted with each other … bloggers networking with food! (okay, with some wine and beer too!) We were thrilled to visit with some of the local food bloggers who joined us for the party, sharing our stories and picking up tips to help us improve our own blogging efforts.
On the first day, I picked an education session on the floral track presented by international color expert, Leatrice Eisemann. We were taken on a journey through colors found in nature, high end fashion, children’s apparel, decor, jewelry, automobiles, sports teams…you name it! The psychology of color and the benefits of using certain colors were fascinating to me. The biggest take-away for me was that it’s not really about ‘color’…it’s really about palettes! Keep your favorite outfits and home decor, but add a punch of color that is unexpected…break the rules and be bold! The color of the year is Radiant Orchid, and we were introduced to the palettes of the year as well. Florists will use these palettes to create new arrangements using color combinations that are exciting! Our presenter, Leatrice Eisemann offers a 4 day course in color … and I’m thinking of taking it now. I never could have predicted that the topic of color would get me so excited, but it did.
During the education day I was mesmerized by global futurist Jack Uldrich, who spoke about how disruptive technology will affect the produce industry. He encourages farmers and retailers to leverage them to transform their respective businesses so they will be ready and able to meet the future demand for food. Uldrich illustrated some ways that advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology, renewable energy resources, and satellite and sensor technologies will affect agriculture in the coming years. Was I interested? You bet I was! Are you interested? Here’s a video of a talk he gave earlier this year for a PMA event.
I love the education day at PMA. The attendance is comparatively small if you look at the number of people who come to the Expo days, but the ideas presented and the opportunity to network with new people from different places and circumstances is priceless.
Our Team Fresh Summit group of online publishers (aka bloggers) met up for brunch in the large space reserved for the general sessions. Each of the meals included promotional videos about the companies who sponsored the food we were enjoying, as well as entertaining and engaging speakers. After the brunch on the first day, our group stayed behind to talk about how we could best serve our sponsors and cover the events of the Fresh Summit, sharing our experiences via social media.
Our leader, Casey Benedict of Kitchen-Play suggested events that we might want to attend, and provided us with the names of people who specifically requested that we meet them and learn more about their products. During the afternoon of that first day, we were invited to attend the PMA Sensory Experience Contest to taste the finalists’ dishes and witness the announcement of the winner.
“The Sensory Experience Contest showcased innovative, kid-friendly recipes from our exhibitors. Ten finalists were pre-selected by buyer judges to show their recipes during a private tasting session where the Buyers’ Choice and Kids’ Choice winners were selected by a judges’ panel of key buyers and local children.
Criteria for the recipes included being: produce-centric, innovative, visually appealing, kid-friendly, flavorful and having great aroma and presentation.”
Remember my new friend Isabel Reis Laessig from the Idaho Potato Tour? Her recipe was one of the winners of the PMA Sensory Experience! It was great to see her again and help celebrate the honor of winning the Kids’ Choice award!
We were able to taste all the entries in the contest, and pick up recipe cards for each. There were several recipes that included avocados…and I hope to share those with you in a future post!
We couldn’t pass up the chance to have a selfie taken in front of the Disney kitchen background…and we were hoping to meet Mickey too, but he was very busy with the winners of the contest! This is my new friend Carly Morgan of Ever Clever Mom.
That evening we all attended the Welcoming Reception outside where lots of food trucks had been parked, pretty lights strung, plenty of beverages available, and loads of fun memories to make with new friends and old.
to be continued…..
Disclaimer: I was provided a media pass to PMA Fresh Summit 2014 by PMA. I was given assignments to work with sponsors by Kitchen-Play. All opinions and experiences are my own.