MONTEREY, CA – This year’s Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference & Expo attracted many foodservice buyers from a wide array of foodservice buying venues.
More than 500 buyers from across the foodservice spectrum – including traditional restaurant operators as well as meal kit delivery companies, cruise line operators, airline caterers, hotel supply chain management executives and online grocery delivery services – trekked to the Monterey Bay to connect and do business with produce grower-shippers and distributors.
The July 28-30 convention attracted 1,821 attendees. During the sold-out July 30 expo, buyers walked the crowded aisles in two expo halls and visited with individuals at booths representing 175 companies. Conference center construction necessitated the separate exhibition areas.
Bill Litvin, senior vice president of sales and marketing with Giorgio Fresh Co., headquartered in Temple, PA, said the show attracted many buyers. “We love the energy and enthusiasm going on in the industry with the young people here,” he says. “We’ve been busy with good traffic and are seeing a lot of buyers.”
Cathy Burns, president of the Newark, DE-based PMA, says attendee feedback was positive. At the education sessions, receptions, networking activities and while walking the expo floor, participants were highly engaged and appreciated returning to downtown Monterey, she says.
“Exhibitors once again did an excellent job showcasing their ability to innovate the plate through value-added products,” says Burns. “There’s incredible energy and a lot of end-user operators here. The diversity of buyers here is particularly poignant this year as we look to drive innovation which can be applied to peoples’ businesses and drive consumption. It was fantastic seeing a lot of new innovative suppliers bringing products to the buying community. The overwhelming theme from comments shared is that people were making the right connections here.”
George Wooten, president of Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., based in Chadbourn, NC, was busy at the show visiting customers. On the first day of the show, July 28, he met with seven foodservice companies. “This is a premier show,” says Wooten. “This is like the produce academy awards. There is a lot going on around the show with parties and meetings. We have seen this show grow and grow.”
Paul Auerbach, president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., a Secaucus NJ-based wholesaler, has been participating in the show for eight years. “The show is a great networking opportunity to meet foodservice professionals,” he says. “You have a lot more concentrated foodservice audience here.”
“This show has been worthwhile,” says Jim Provost, president of I Love Produce in Kelton, PA. “From a business perspective, we as a company are doing better now than eight years ago when we first did this show. It’s gaining traction and we are gaining more as a company.”