OnionBusiness.com’s Sherise Jones was part of the record crowd attending PMA Fresh Summit last week in Orlando, where she had a chance to visit with many onion industry exhibitors and other tens of thousands attendees at the show.
“It was amazing to see how well the industry was represented,” Sherise said. “Onion shippers were there in full force, and many suppliers were in attendance as well. Judging by most of the comments, the PMA expo provided great networking time and was a success for companies interested in selling onions and related products.”
Describing the enormous expo footprint, Sherise said it seemed as though onions stretched the entire length of the center. “I started at one end of the hall and went to the other, visiting with as many folks as I had time for,” she said, adding, “It really takes the full two days if you want to do more than just take a photo.”
And not only were onions well represented in sheer numbers, but the booths themselves were innovative and eye-catching.
One of the most ingenious displays, she said, was that of Volm Cos., which featured a miniature version of the famed Volmstack robot. And while Sherise was at the booth, Volm Communications Manager, Marsha Verwiebe told her, “We had a small version of our stacking robot made so that our customers can view its full function, and the display doesn’t take up our entire booth. It’s worked out well, too. We ended up with plenty of space that provided this cool vibe where we can visit and connect with our customers.”
PMA always provides an excellent opportunity for networking, and Sherise said the comments shared by Jason Walker of Bybee Produce in Prosser, WA, were echoed by most she talked to. “We’re here to connect with our customers on a face-to-face basis,” Jason said. “Of course, we are always looking for new opportunities. PMA always does a great job, and this year was no exception.”
For many, exhibiting at PMA is a family affair. “Boy, it seemed like the entire Ray family was in the Ray Farms booth,” Sherise said. “It is such a delight to see everyone pitching in, even the little guys.”
Danny Ray spoke on behalf of the family. “We really enjoy coming to the show,” he said. “There is nothing better than meeting our customers in person, and for our family, the personal touch is the key to our success.”
And it wasn’t just DNA-connected families that came together to exhibit. Companies with products that compliment each other shared booths as well, as demonstrated at with Eqraft and Symach who used a single large booth to highlight some of their combined successes with existing customers and potential new ones.
Harm Geurs with Eqraft told Sherise that PMA provides a good platform to connect and meet customers face-to-face. “PMA gives us a chance to visit with our customers and move the conversation forward with those we have given proposals to,” Harm said.
Eqraft’s Norman “Snap” Keene added, “We are fortunate this year to have a great booth position, and we have been able to see a lot of people here.” And Steve Shellenbaum with Symach said, “It’s important that we focus on raising the awareness about new technology, and PMA is a good place for that.”
There were many onion exhibitors who joined that raising of awareness with announcements of their new programs and products, and Sherise had the chance to visit with Rodman Runnalls and Dylan Dembeck in the Minkus Family Farm booth where they were showcasing the new New York Grown and Certified Program. And Sunset Farms used the expo to highlight its new SunKissed Sweet label, covered in a separate story this week.
Top Featured Image: MVP-Mesilla Valley Produce, New Mexico. TJ, Jeremy and Luly
Here is a complete photo gallery from last week’s mega event: