Produce industry drives new sales through innovation, packaging


Given the economy, the push to grow sales was seen everywhere at this year's Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit conference held in Anaheim October 26-28, from the educational sessions to the show floor.

Among the best attended sessions were “Closing the Gap: Engaging Multiple Generations in Today’s Dynamic Marketplace,” which talked about understanding today’s customers, and “The Innovation Conversation: How to Survive the e-Revolution,” which focused on what can be learned from e-commerce successes and how to compete in the new environment.

Other sessions helped attendees understand the impact of mobile computing and selling produce during the current unique marketing environment.

In his keynote address, PMA president and CEO Bryan Silberman continued on this trend, indicating the need to first understand the economic and political landscape produce marketers are facing and then take advantage of it. He asked attendees to create a future of new consumer demand opportunities through innovation and collaboration.

“Thanks to the emergence of a world-wide digital economy, this consumer, who thinks globally but acts locally, already has a place in our company boardrooms, influencing literally every aspect of business models,” he told the audience.  “Consider how marketing has changed in a few years. How many suppliers have established lasting connections directly with consumers in the past couple of years? How will that connection change your relationship with buyers in the years to come?”

On the exhibit floor, attendees saw more organics than in previous years, as well as the promotion of gluten-replacement foods.

Convenience is also increasingly important for consumers and the growth in the number of companies offering ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook packages proved this trend has legs.

“Some of the new and innovative packaging is great for Canadian retailers. Marketing to kids with packages that compete with candy both in terms of price and size is a great example of what is being shown at the PMA this year. Ready-to-serve salads that taste good and retain their freshness are another,” said Ron Lemaire, president of Canadian Produce Marketing Association.

The PMA reported more than 20,000 attendees and exhibitors at the show this year, a record number for an industry that continues to make moves to ensure growth in the coming decades through retailer-supplier collaboration and innovation.

Here's a video featuring highlights from the 2012 Fresh Summit:

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