The global fresh produce and floral industry gathered in record numbers at Produce Marketing Association’s 67th annual (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention & Expo, which was held Oct. 14-16, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., with a total number of 20,889 attendees from 65 countries. This sets PMA’s new East Cost record, say show organizers.
The three-day event highlights the tools PMA delivers year-round to its members: connections to innovation, networking and professional education to help grow successful businesses.
A total of 1200-plus exhibiting companies showcased new products, trends, technologies and innovations across the largest-ever expo, which included a sold-out Floral Pavilion and 166 first-time exhibitors, another Fresh Summit record.
On the expo floor, four exhibitors were chosen by a panel of industry experts for “best of show,” which is designed to generate attendee excitement and encourage exhibitors to enhance the effectiveness of their exhibition experience:
- Best of Show, in-line booth: Veggie Noodle Co.
- Best of Show, island booth: Gems Group, Inc.
- Best Produce Promo: SUNSET for its Dill-it-yourself Pickle Kit
- Best First-Time Exhibitor: ArizonaEast
“Each year we are introduced to new, promising innovations that give us an inside look at our industry’s bright future,” says PMA exhibitor advisory committee chair Kevin Steiner, director of business development at Sage Fruit Company. “And this year was no different!”
The show's education sessions explored effective marketing strategies, food safety, new industry technologies and more. Each session fell into one of the five Fresh Summit Communities of Interest. This helped attendees connect with others who shared common goals. Fresh Summit Communities of Interest included: floral, global, industry talent, issues leadership, and science and technology.
The event sparked conversations around the world on social media, and #FreshSummit was a top trend on Twitter.
Next year’s Fresh Summit will be held Oct. 19-21, 2017 in New Orleans. In response to member feedback, PMA will be shifting to a Thursday through Saturday schedule with the expo on Friday and Saturday. This allows attendees to get home to their families sooner and be back in the office on Monday.