This past Friday and Saturday, PMA Fresh Summit was held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. The show attracted a record-breaking 24,000 attendees. Although the first day traditionally is the busiest day, this year the second day drew many visitors to the convention center again. Many exhibitors shared that a Fresh Summit show on the West Coast just tends to draw a bigger crowd. In addition, this is the second year the show is being held on Friday and Saturday which seems to result in a more balanced attendance as opposed to a Saturday/Sunday show.
This year’s floor plan was a little different compared to previous years. Exhibitors were broken down by segments and booths were grouped by product and trade. The four different sections included Produce Marketplace, Complementary Items Marketplace, Solutions Marketplace, and Floral Marketplace. John Pandol with Pandol Brothers said the breakdown really helped in terms of quality of people coming through. “Rather than walking through to get somewhere else, attendees purposely came by for a visit,” he said. On the flipside, one part of Solutions Marketplace seemed to be more isolated from the main exhibition hall, resulting in slower traffic and mixed feelings for exhibitors.
Susan Day with the California Table Grape Commission was very happy about the turnout. “The first day in particular was very busy,” she said. “We saw retailers and importers from all over the world including China, Southeast Asia, Mexico, Central America and Australia. I have a feeling the show is becoming more international,” she added.
Shift towards compostable packaging
The biggest trend on the show floor seemed to be the shift towards environmentally friendly, home compostable packaging. It looks like it’s an industrywide trend as examples were seen for greenhouse grown vegetables, berries, citrus, apples and more. Although the shift offers opportunities for many, one exhibitor mentioned the challenges it brings. “Ten years ago, we had to get rid of paper because it killed too many trees. Now, we need to reduce the use of plastic as the pollution affects life in the ocean.”
Another trend visible at the show was the presentation of new software and artificial intelligence innovation that is happening in the produce industry.
Next year, PMA Fresh Summit will be held from October 15-17 in Dallas, Texas.