Throughout the year, our industry has several opportunities to come together at events around the world to share knowledge, perspectives, and insights. The Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention and Expo is one such event, bringing together the produce and floral industries, fresh supply chain leaders, retail buyers, food safety experts, and importers and exporters from more than 60 countries. This year, the convention and expo will be held in Orlando, FL.
My PMA Fresh Summit journey
I’ve had the pleasure of attending more than a dozen PMA Fresh Summit conventions, as well as a myriad of other PMA events that are put on each year across the world. Four years ago, I joined the Global Development Committee to connect with other companies and support PMA’s vision to bring together the global produce and floral community to grow a healthier world. This year’s Fresh Summit convention marks the beginning of a new chapter for me, because I’ll assume the role as chairman of the committee. I’m looking forward to giving back to the organization both personally and professionally, continuing to learn about how PMA adds value to our industry, and encouraging others to volunteer and support PMA’s mission to grow consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
As a committee and board member, which I joined in 2017, I wanted to reflect on where PMA Fresh Summit started and share a few things. I, along with the rest of the Robinson Fresh® team, am excited for this year’s event, and we are already well into our pre-show planning activities. As an insider, I’ve also included a few tips to help you get the most out of your PMA Fresh Summit experience.
The evolution of PMA Fresh Summit
Each year, PMA Fresh Summit has steadily grown its status as a global event, increasing the number of exhibitors and attendees who attend and expanding its content beyond domestic produce. Today, as a leading forum, PMA’s area of focus also includes global produce, the floral industry, perishable supply chains, and other factors that impact our complex, important industry.
What to look forward to this year
This year’s convention will continue to drive toward PMA’s mission, expand the influence of our industry, and generate solutions to deliver value to consumers. One thing that makes PMA Fresh Summit unique is its consistently shifting, evolving content—meaning there’s always a new lens or focus to include impactful insights and more relevant information for more parties, whether you’re a grower in South America or a retailer in the Northeast United States. This year, PMA Fresh Summit will present “4 Big Topics. 4 Big Voices. 4 Forums for the Future.” featuring high-profile, inspiring professionals—including an NFL athlete—who will share stories about making good decisions under pressure and being pioneers and entrepreneurs.
4 ways to maximize your PMA Fresh Summit experience
In less than a month, we’ll gather together with more than 21,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors for 96 hours of networking, learning, and motivating each other. Here are four tips—each gleaned from my own experience—to make the most out of your time at PMA Fresh Summit.
1. Start prepping and planning now. PMA Fresh Summit provides a forum to get together, host meetings, and see folks you might not see throughout the year who impact your business. That said, there are many moving parts, so it’s important to begin thinking about your goals and priorities now. I begin reviewing the show’s schedule eight weeks prior. That way, I can start jotting down names of people I’d like to connect with and make the most of my face-to-face time. Those 96 onsite hours will fly by, so it’s important to have a well-rehearsed plan in place to maximize your time.
2. Spread word of networking events. Reach out and invite your key industry friends to the events you’ll be attending. PMA Fresh Summit is the culmination of many regional events (e.g., PMA’s Fresh Connections that occur around the world), giving us the opportunity to both reconnect with people and develop relationships with those you’ve previously only met or have been waiting to meet.
3. Set a schedule. I tend to prioritize setting up meetings with people who I don’t often get to see (i.e., people who live overseas). But I know it’s just as important to grow local relationships, so I do try to schedule a mix of meetings with local and global connections. In addition, it’s important to attend as many of the thought-provoking seminars and make time to network. A good way to accomplish this is to chat with colleagues about which events are most important and then devise a plan to divide and conquer together.
4. Think about a thoughtful way to follow up. The fun isn’t over when the show ends. It’s critical to circle back in a timely manner with the connections made and the commitments that unfolded during your time in Orlando. A follow-up email or phone call following the convention is a good way to immediately strengthen the relationships you made and capitalize on potential opportunities.
Over the last several years, PMA has expanded its presence and prominence as a premier global trade show event, reaching new members around the world, increasing the services and value it provides, and delivering solutions for a growing consumer base. Robinson Fresh has been on a similar journey. We’ve been busy growing our product and service offerings around the world to meet consumers’ ever-changing demands.
If you’re heading to PMA Fresh Summit this October, I hope to see you there! In the meantime, our fresh experts are ready to connect with you to discuss your fresh business’s needs.