For the first time in more than seven decades, the excitement, hustle and bustle of an on-site, in-person PMA Fresh Summit has been sidelined, but our friends at the Produce Marketing Association refuse to be daunted by this thing called COVID-19.
#FreshSummit will be bringing the industry together in a virtual way Oct. 13-15 to experience Content, Community and Connections – the three facets of produce marketing known to be the most essential. Registration with sponsorship options for the PMA Fresh Summit Marketplace, the virtual exhibit hall, is open at https://www.pma.com/events/freshsummit/get-involved.
According to PMA CEO Cathy Burns, “We have all faced new and unpredictable challenges this year, but we have also seen a great surge of recognition of the absolute importance of our industry. Our products are key to a healthful life and to growing a healthier world. We look forward to the opportunities this year to amplify the message that fresh produce and floral is relevant and essential to new global audiences.”
A webinar hosted earlier in August focused on two major issues of a virtual event: a tailored and personalized experience for all guests and a section focused on buyer and supplier connections.
With those components top of mind, the event is being planned in partnership with the Fresh Summit committee, a volunteer group comprised of industry members including Co-chairs Shawn Peery, vice president of produce and floral at Albertsons Cos., and Angela Fraser, director of trade affairs at California Avocado Commission.
In those discussions, the three “C” themes were discussed, and 2020’s Content component will “address critical and relevant topics to help the industry reflect back on the year we’ve had and see where we’re headed in the coming months.
More information will be provided about the specific sessions and speakers closer to the event; however, it was confirmed that there will be a lineup of live, on-demand, and interactive content on this year’s agenda.”
Regarding Community, which is tightknit in throughout the produce/floral industry, this year’s approach will obviously be different, and the “Produce Marketing Association will serve as the leader in guiding and directing our industry through this ever-changing world… The way we do these things may change, but the reason will remain the same. To come together to drive consumption of fresh produce and floral products and in turn, to grow a healthier world.”
And about Connections, where most years would see attendees preparing for Fresh Summit “by picking out their comfiest shoes, studying the Expo and Conference Hall map, and making a plan to cover as much ground as possible… that may look a bit different, but guests’ goals are the same and the team has selected a virtual platform to prioritize connections.”
Organizers said guests “can expect a personalized experience, tailored to their individual goals. The platform will prioritize connections between buyers and sellers and feature a number of ways to engage with and discover the latest products, services and solutions.”
Guests “will be invited to login well in advance with the goal to let [them] build their schedule, make connections and set up meetings so that when the event begins, there is not a minute wasted.”
Other opportunities will be available at each level of participation, with information available at the Marketplace web page.
“2020 has been a year like no other,” said Burns. “The pandemic has changed our world and wrapped up in these changes are incredible opportunities for the produce and floral communities to leverage the momentum as more consumers seek our products. While we have had our challenges, I am excited that this will be a Fresh Summit where we come together to connect, welcome new audiences, discover new partnerships and ideas, and celebrate our work to grow a healthier world.”
Watch for updates as the virtual event draws nearer. Exhibitors can reach out with all questions or requests for immediate support at firstname.lastname@example.org.