On the heels of one of my favorite events of the year, I wanted to pause, reflect, and share my experience at the PMA Fresh Summit. Full disclosure, I am both the director of global sales for Robinson Fresh® and the vice chairman of the Global Development Committee for PMA. When it comes to reflecting on this particular show, I am probably a bit biased.
Like any good motivator, I like to call out a job well done. For this year’s PMA Fresh Summit, I couldn’t be more proud of the Robinson Fresh and PMA Fresh Summit teams. This was the highest-attended Fresh Summit ever on the East Coast, with professional booths and thought-provoking presentations.
All three of our booths (both Robinson Fresh and C.H. Robinson) were well attended, with a long list of client and supplier meetings scheduled throughout the weekend. Based on the conversations the rest of the team and I had during this busy event, here are a few key trends and takeaways we found.
There was an overall global theme
Of PMA’s members, 27% are from outside the United States (according to the PMA Global Development Committee), and conference attendees hailed from six different continents. So it’s no surprise that global business development was a significant focus of this year’s PMA Fresh Summit.
Two booths immediately next to us were the Chilean pavilion and vegetable growers from Holland, respectively. Given our significant presence in both Europe and Latin America, along with my own personal experience working in The Netherlands for several years, it’s safe to say we felt at home in our space.
Today’s consumers are well traveled and have the world at their fingertips. They want the local grocery store to reflect this globalization. Because consumers demand it, fruits and vegetables are increasingly moving from one continent to another. Products are now grown across all regions of the world and they require integrated cold chain management solutions to arrive safely.
Cold chain management was a hot topic
As global supply continues to expand into new growing regions, so too does the demand for unique and innovative solutions to deliver fresh products around the world. Often the longer the supply chain, the more complex the solutions are likely to be—typically requiring advanced technology to track product along the journey.
Ecommerce vs. brick and mortar
Consumers everywhere are indulging in ecommerce, and even though the online sales of fresh products have gained some traction and will continue to do so, online sales in the immediate future will likely be dominated by non-perishables. For brick-and-mortar stores, the weight of having successful fresh departments becomes even more important to continue to attract an increasing number of consumers every year.
The floral industry is blooming
The amount of floor space that florals continues to take up at these shows does not surprise me in the least. It not only speaks to the importance of fresh offerings in the grocery format (which continues to accelerate) but the importance and growth of the industry overall.
This increase in fresh flower sales again leads to the importance of the global supply chain. Most flowers today are expedited to the United States through major hubs such as Amsterdam and Bogota, but also increasingly from lesser-known areas like Guayaquil and Nairobi.
Our own florals expert, Javier Truyol, manager of florals at Robinson Fresh, was a panelist at the summit. As part of the conversation, “Focus on Floral: What Global Trends Mean for You,” Javier emphasized how we have been working with the floral industry for over a decade. During this time, we’ve welcomed challenges and opportunities our customers are looking for in a floral solutions provider.
Organics, organics, organics
We all know that consumers are asking for more organic, fresh products. So it makes sense that the organics conversation was one of the most prevalent throughout the show. From a certified organic showcase, to most booths displaying both conventional and organic offerings, organics seemed to have a stronger presence than ever before. Within our own booth, our proprietary brand, Tomorrow’s® Organics, was on display along with our conventional items. I anticipate this will continue to be an area of growth for our industry.
Until next year
PMA Fresh Summit 2016 was a great industry event to see old friends and make new ones. It was truly wonderful to see that virtually every component of the fresh fruit, vegetable, and floral industry across the globe was represented at the event. As I sat on the plane headed for home, I sifted through the business cards I collected during my three days in Orlando and it made me excited about the opportunities in front of us.