Simple and healthy food choices dominate at PMA Fresh Summit

Annual conference and trade show attracted more than 19,500 attendees

Key trends in eating today were embodied in the products and concepts on display at this year’s Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit last week in New Orleans.

Snacking formats to simplify healthier eating, recipe and meal solutions to make home cooking a snap, value-added products, plant proteins, beverages, and lots of avocados -- these ideas dominated the scene at Fresh Summit, which attracted more than 19,500 attendees this year.

Connecting with consumers

In her state-of-the-industry address, PMA CEO Cathy Burns asked growers and retailers: “How are you using technology to meet consumers where they are? And whether high-tech or high-touch, how are you taking steps to ensure your customers have exceptional experiences with your business? Does your people strategy provide talent with exceptional experiences to grow and make a positive impact on our industry?”

Burns identified technology, consumer and talent trends that will shape the industry in years to come, and stressed that working together is key to future success.

“I believe our greatest strength is turning the global produce and floral supply chains into an interconnected community of people and ideas,” she said. “Fruits, vegetables and floral connect us to each other and consumers in ways that other products cannot.”

Urging members to look beyond their own industries for inspiration, Burns called on the group to embrace inspired marketing that goes beyond advertising and sales, including analysis, research, consumer understanding, business strategy, cultural exploration, benchmarking, innovation and creativity.

On the show floor

From the exhibit hall to the new product showcase, Fresh Summit exhibitors displayed products targeting many key trends driving interest among today’s consumers.

Making it easier for folks to eat healthier is a priority among fruit and vegetable growers. Among the products featuring smaller, convenient, portable formats were snacking tomatoes from growers like DelFrisco Pure, NatureSweet, PureFlavor and Windset Farms; apple slices from Crunch Pak; mini kiwifruit from Zespri; snack packs featuring fruit and veggies combined with nuts, dried fruits and cheeses from companies such as Naturipe and Reichel Foods; World Peas Peatos crunchy pulse-based snacks; and Veggie Cubes from Truly Good Foods, a sort of “gateway” snack between chips and veggies.

Recipe and meal solutions
Produce cut into a variety of sizes, shapes and formats aimed at making mealtimes easier was shown by many companies, among them Green Giant Fresh, including its “baby veggies” line in partnership with Robinson Fresh; SteamPak mini potatoes from RPE; Let’s Blend chopped mushrooms from Monterey Mushrooms, for adding plant protein to ground meats; Nourish Bowls from Mann Packing Co.; and Just Add stir-in spice blends, and guacamole and salsa starters, from Fresh Gourmet.

Drinks made from greens, kombuchas and drinking vinegars made a strong showing, including Daily Greens, which launched the low-sugar Green Ade line as well as a nutrient-dense Just line, all cold-pressed and HPP processed; Live drinking vinegars; and Suja organic kombuchas.

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