The Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA’s) Fresh Summit 2019, held recently in Anaheim, Calif., boasted a record-breaking 24,000 attendees, a star-studded education lineup and a packed and energizing trade show featuring more than 1,000 exhibitors from around the globe.
During the show, WGB trailed PMA CEO Cathy Burns (third from right) when she paid a surprise visit to FoodStory Brands' Fresh Cravings booth to present the Best Island Booth in the Complementary Items Marketplace category for its new line of dairy-free dips made from almonds or cashews in both savory and sweet varieties. "We pushed ourselves to accelerate our innovation process as we see tremendous opportunity to deliver healthier alternatives at highly competitive prices to all consumers,” said FoodStory Brands President Jay Whitney (top right).
Columbus, Ohio-based startup ProteoSense was selected as the winner of the Thrive Fresh Summit Challenge focused on accelerating companies with the best emerging technologies to advance the future of food and agriculture. ProteoSense earned $100,000 in investment from SVG Ventures and a coveted spot on the Thrive VI Accelerator Program. Los Gatos, Calif.-based SVG Ventures selected four finalist companies—Intello Labs, ProteoSense,SolGro and Space AG—from a pool of global startups developing ag-tech and agri-food innovation focused on sustainability, digital solutions, food waste reduction and food safety solutions. The finalists presented their technology solutions on stage during a live pitch competition in front of the judging panel, which included Robert Herjavec, entrepreneur and “shark” on ABC’s “Shark Tank”; John Hartnett, CEO of SVG Ventures-Thrive; Jennifer Maloney, food stakeholder manager for Bayer; and Ted Taylor, head of new ventures and business development for Taylor Farms.
The National Mango Board (NMB), Orlando, Fla., honored Wegmans as its 2019 Mango Retailer of the Year during its annual Mango Industry Reception. Mary Zink, produce category merchant for the Rochester, N.Y.-based retailer, accepted the award on behalf of Wegmans for its above and beyond efforts to offer strong consistent support to the mango industry and deliver outstanding mango promotion results. Another major factor influencing the growth of mangoes at Wegmans was the development of an in-house ripening program in 2017 that has been a resounding success for Wegmans.
“We continue to see incredible growth in total mango sales,” said Zink, noting that, “it takes an entire village, from our buyers to our ripeners, to make sure that the fruit is at the perfect ripeness for our customers to purchase.” Zink gave a special shoutout to Wegmans’ “store teams that drive sales through displays, knowledge-based service, commitment and passion.”
A little less than six months since Bolthouse Farms was bought back from Campbell Soup Co., the energized Bolthouse team—including VP of Marketing AJ Bernstein—was out in force to showcase and sample more than 20 new plant-powered products, including line extensions, new flavors and new categories. Products show included ready-to-drink keto protein beverages; Bolts, a line of functional shots that are grounded in the nutrition of carrots; and CBD Functional Infusions.
Bob Catinella of Pear Bureau Northwest presented Harris Teeter’s Robert Tubbs and Mark Hilton with the 2019 Pear Retailer of the Year award on the show floor of the Fresh Summit. The award is based on tactics devoted to pear category improvements in merchandising performance and sales increases throughout the year. Harris Teeter’s adoption of a conditioning program, cross-merchandising meal solutions and a focus on both in-store and digital promotions contributed to pears’ success. “The Harris Teeter team really went all in with Northwest pears throughout the 2018-2019 season, and as a result, they saw a significant sales increase across the category,” Catinella said in a statement. “Execution at the store level can be a challenge in today’s retail environment, and Harris Teeter has embraced the challenge.”
A roving team of goodwill ambassadors for Frieda’s Specialty Produce were armed to address survival needs for Fresh Summit attendees. For those enduring headaches, heartburn and blisters from traversing the massive show floor, it was easy to spot Frieda’s team members, who were wearing purple T-shirts that declared the produce company’s “Got your back” message around the convention center, which played host to the nation’s largest produce convention.
San Antonio-based NatureSweet enlisted noted TV food and lifestyle expert Chadwick Boyd to create and demonstrate recipes featuring the greenhouse-grown Cherubs and Comets tomato line. Boyd also whipped up a tasty recipe featuring the Brighthouse Organics red grape tomatoes for attendees.
Cynthia Hurrington provided WGB with a primer on Spring, Texas-based Fresh Food Group’s new and expanded offerings, including quinoa chili kits under the Freshly Crafted brand, in tandem with the recent combination of three companies with complementary production and products: Country Fresh, which specializes in fresh-cut fruit, apple slices, vegetables and fresh snacking solutions; Sun Rich, which cuts and prepares made-to-order fresh fruit for foodservice; and Tiffany Gate, which creates, manufactures and delivers fresh prepared foods to some of the largest retail and foodservice companies in North America.
Industry consultant Sherrie Terry visited with Duda Farm Fresh Foods’ Elena Hernandez and Nichole Towell.