Fresh Summit 2012: Consolidated trade show, reorganized education programs planned

September 6, 2012

No more half-empty aisle ways and exhibitors standing around wondering where everybody went.

The 2012 Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit exhibitors’ Expo has been shortened from three days to two for 2012. It runs Saturday and Sunday instead of through Monday and features about 900 exhibitors on 670,000 square feet of floor space at California’s Anaheim Convention Center during the Oct. 26-28 industry gathering.

“Ninety percent of the Fresh Summit Expo exhibitors requested that we take Monday away because it only attracted about 34 percent of attendees,” said Meg Miller, PMA public relations director. “This modification allows companies to spend more show time effectively and efficiently and it reduces Expo hours by only one- and-a-half hours.”

It’s one of several changes in store for PMA’s annual fall trade show, expected to attract more than 18,500 attendees — about 43 percent of them buyers — representing 60 countries from around the world.

“The number of attendees from different countries is simply a reflection of the global nature of our supply chain,” said Lorna Christie, PMA executive vice president and COO.

Education sessions have been consolidated to one day — Friday — and structured around what PMA is calling “communities of interest.” Those categories include Food Safety and Technology, Business Innovation and Leadership, Global Trade and Trends and Marketing and Sales.

“Contrary to the past where we only had workshops based on these topics, this year we have workshops, but we also have some networking sessions,” Miller said. “They can come back together after the session is over and they’re going to be able to talk with the speaker or talk with each other about different ideas that came up in the forum.

“We really want them to have an opportunity to continue the conversation.”

This year’s New Product Showcase will feature a new “Just 4 Kids” corner. “There are so many companies coming out with products that are geared toward increasing consumption with kids, and a lot of the packages that are being crafted are kid-friendly,” Miller said. “They’re going to be separating out the ones specifically geared for the kids.”

Throughout, the focus will be on the future. With game changers ahead, Christie said, embracing change and being prepared to adapt will be key.

“Consumer connection is being redefined — what are the business implications of that?” Christie said. “It calls for more marketing and less sales. It calls for creating new relationships with consumers.”

The deadline to register and receive an early discount is Sept. 21. Advance registration cutoff is Oct. 12.