The International Pineapple Organization is a market driven organization with the purpose of bringing together the minds of the pineapple industry. They encompass the whole of the pineapple sector – each step of the supply chain for fresh, cut, and dehydrated pineapple as well as pineapple juice. Patrick Kelly is the organization’s director of innovation, and he has been working to launch the concept of a virtual conference for the organization.
Virtual meeting space: Second Life
“We have been working on this project for a while now, even before the pandemic started affecting people throughout the world. Our next event will be in April and it will be completely virtual. The entire platform, Second Life, has been built from scratch and participants will design their own avatar with which they will attend the event. There will be a roundtable collaboration where we will discuss topics such as supply, demand, logistics, technological developments and sustainability. There will be industry leaders present who will discuss these topics, but the main goal is that all the attendees participate and that we don’t just have communication but also a collaboration between all the members of the industry,” Kelly explains.
After conferring with the organization's members on what date would work best, the event is set to occur for April 22nd, 2020.
The virtual platform will allow people to attend the event from their own home. They will be able to participate in the event and even enter subconversations with each of the other participants. Kelly shares: “While this is a great solution now that people have to stay inside and there are travel restrictions, the goal is to make virtual conferences a staple in our industry even when everything has returned to normal. Holding virtual conferences will allow people to attend more of these events throughout the year because it’ll be much easier and cheaper to participate when you don’t have to travel to attend.”
The virtual conferences will include booths, just like the in-person conferences do. “There will be different levels of participation from sponsorships – which will give the participant a booth – to just attending. The virtual space will show the different booths, and you can engage with the booth holders through the platform.” The International Pineapple Organization aims to be the first organization in the industry to hold a virtual conference like this.
Helping industry members during the pandemic
With everything that is going on in the world, the International Pineapple Organization is trying to help their members navigate these difficult times. “Usually, our members are scheduled for monthly strategy calls but now we are constantly open for these calls. This is to help our members have up-to-date information about the market,” Kelly says.
“Right now, the main issue for the industry is a lack of information, not a lack of supply. The demand can be extremely high one day and non-existent the next and there’s no predicting it. Then there are port closures which make the logistics more complicated. All in all, the industry is working extra hard to be able to fulfill their deliveries. There are so many uncertainties in the entire industry right now that it’s a day-by-day, if not an hour-by-hour business,” he concludes.