Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) 2017 Fresh Summit Convention & Expo will feature new days, networking opportunities designed to build business connections, plus educational programming and a trade show focused on delivering innovation when it convenes October 19—21. The 2017 Fresh Summit will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

“This year, we’ve made a change to the schedule. We will be convening Thursday through Saturday, rather than Friday through Sunday as we have in the past. Be sure to attend to these details as you book your travel and accommodations,” says PMA Fresh Summit Committee Co-Chair Nick Armano of Robinson Fresh. “Then you can focus on your plans for getting the most ROI out of your time at this year’s Fresh Summit.

“This year’s theme is ‘Let’s Grow Together’ for very good reason. We have great value planned, from trends and other education to help your business chart a strong future course, to our supply chain’s best networking to bring sellers and buyers together, to the trade show where absolutely the global industry’s best and newest will be on display,” says committee Co-Chair Kori Tuggle of Church Brothers Farms.

Day changes detailed

Beginning this year, Fresh Summit will convene Thursday through Saturday Oct. 19-21, with education and insights Thursday, Oct. 19 and the expo on Friday and Saturday Oct. 20-21. In recent years, Fresh Summit has been Friday through Sunday, with the expo on Saturday and Sunday.

“We are responding to members’ requests,” says the PMA board’s representative to the Fresh Summit Committee, Jim DiMenna of Red Sun Farms. “The day shift ensures that attendees, particularly our exhibitors, can wrap up their activities in time to get home for some family time and be back at their desks on Monday. We are minimizing intrusions on our attendees’ weekend time.”

PMA first announced the 2017-day change at last year’s Fresh Summit. The association’s volunteer leadership for this event had studied options and recommended the day shift to the PMA Board of Directors, which approved the transition.

What’s new or notable

Each year’s Fresh Summit content is designed with input from the Fresh Summit Committee to ensure its content will meet the fresh produce and floral supply chain’s real-world needs. So while some foundational features remain the same each year, each Fresh Summit differs somewhat.

“Fresh Summit is a once-a-year event that highlights the best of what PMA has to offer year-round in terms of connections, innovations and insights,” said PMA CEO Cathy Burns. “We couldn’t make this happen without the hard work and dedication of our amazing volunteer leaders. The staff and I are incredibly grateful for the leadership and guidance from Nick, Kori, Jim and our other Fresh Summit Committee volunteers. Their collaboration shows that we are truly stronger together.”

Here’s what will be new or notable in New Orleans:

This year’s expo will feature 1,000+ exhibiting companies—including 70-plus first-time exhibitorsdisplaying their best and most innovative products and services.

The first-ever Bryan E. Silbermann Collaboration award will be presented.

Keynote speakers: General session speakers include the retail industry’s Content Guy Kevin Coupe, futurist Brian David Johnson, and PMA CEO Cathy Burns’ annual State of the Industry address.

Trends and other training: This year’s Fresh Summit will feature 15 workshops on topics ranging from consumer trends to talent management.

Personalize your trade show visit using the MyExpo planning tool and the Fresh Summit mobile app for Apple or Android.

Floral Buyer Roundtables: Floral suppliers can sign up for speed dating-like meetings with retailers; separate registration required, spots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

What isn’t changing?

What matters to you most: Again this year, attendees can tailor their Fresh Summit schedule to connect to content and attendees who share your common interests and goals. 2017 Fresh Summit “Communities of Interest” include Floral, Science and Technology, Global Connections including demand creation, and Industry Talent.

Floral-specific programming and community, including workshops, a networking reception, the annual Floral Marketer of the Year leadership award presentation, and the Floral Pavilion destination on the trade show floor.

Start your trade show experience at the Fresh Ideas Showcase, including sections highlighting kid-friendly, on-the-go, organic and floral products and services.

The exhibitor-only Sensory Experience Contest showcasing consumer demand-spurring recipes featuring fruits and vegetables.

The annual Women’s Fresh Perspectives Leadership Breakfast on Thursday, Oct. 19, hosted by Center for Growing Talent by PMA. (Separate registration required.)

The annual 5K Race for Talent walk/run on Friday, Oct. 20. (Separate registration required.)

Awards of Excellence nominations due August 11

At Fresh Summit in October, PMA will announce winners of its three Awards of Excellence for individuals: the Floral Marketer of the Year Award, the Robert L. Carey Leadership Award, and the new Bryan E. Silbermann Collaboration Award.

PMA members can nominate potential awardees; you can nominate yourself, an individual from your company, or someone from another business. Nominations are due August 11.

New Orleans’ famous hospitality

Fresh Summit is returning to New Orleans for the first time since 2013. The city that is famous for its food, music and hospitality is ready for the PMA community, the city’s tourism bureau spokesperson says.

“Bring a big stack of business cards, and a big appetite—Fresh Summit and great food, music, art and sightseeing, the Crescent City has it all,” says PMA’s Burns.

Register early and save

Fresh Summit registration and housing reservations are now open here. Attendees can register early by September 15 to save on registration. Fresh produce and floral buyers receive significant discounts on registration.

Fresh Summit’s All Access Pass includes access to all general sessions and workshops, the Welcoming Reception and Fresh Ideas in Action Reception, and all days of the expo. Passes for the trade show only are also available.

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