As first time attendees to PMA’s Fresh Summit, we didn’t quite know what to expect. Of course, most events are virtual this year so we were familiar with this set up from the United Fresh and Foodservice events. Yet, PMA’s Fresh Summit offered a new playing field with A.I. incorporation, a different virtual “exhibitor” experience, and more. Safe to say, we were curious, looking forward to Fresh Summit and eager to learn more! We are honored and grateful to be part of the DMA Solutions team and granted access to educational opportunities to help us grow and navigate through the complexity of the fresh produce industry. Here are our thoughts on our first Fresh Summit experience.
The “State of the Industry”
We love the idea of this as the overarching introduction into Fresh Summit. Our perception is that Cathy Burns is a well-spoken and passionate industry leader and we can appreciate the importance of her position in these times of uncertainty. After hearing from our colleagues and leaders about the impact and richness that previous State of the Industry presentations have given our team, we were humbled to see less forecasting and vision being cast and more tactical "what we can do now" strategies discussed in light of the pandemic. We certainly understand the position that one in Cathy's seat must take during a time like this and we look forward to seeing future SOI presentations featuring hard-hitting and futuristic concepts that we can sink our teeth into as marketers.
“Marketplace Page” Inspiration
We were pleasantly surprised by the layout of PMA’s Fresh Summit's Marketplace Pages. They were dynamic, easy to explore and find interesting and informative things about the different exhibitors. We were extremely delighted by a few stand outs:
One of the vital parts of the Marketplace Pages was the video! We learned a lot by watching and absorbing the video content; not only for entertainment and seeing a story come to life in an interesting format, we also enjoyed absorbing the information about the companies and creativity put into the videos. We viewed them as a window into the minds of the marketers and the leaders on the exhibitor side of the show and we were delighted with what we saw.
SUNSET's video featuring chef, Roger Mooking, showcasing of their "Bomb" tomato line was well produced, the talent was exceptionally good at keeping our attention and we were star struck by this Food Network chef! 😍
The Wholly Guacamole video was too clever to not mention! The advertisement centric video highlights the challenges that whole avocados present to their consumer when they are bruised, too hard or too mushy. Wholly Guacamole is letting consumers know to leave it to them to pick the perfect avocados and as Millennial shoppers, we do appreciate!
We couldn't help but to be curious by this new product offered by Good Foods. The plant based dips speak loudly to our fresh-seeking Millennial heartstrings and are available in single serves – perfect for a busy on-the-go and active lifestyle! These little beauties are under 100 calories and fit well in a handheld tote bag. They are delicious, dippable, cauliflower-based and full of produce. Just what the doctor ordered for first-timers like us.
Wait, there is an Avo University? The minute we came across this delicious educational opportunity we knew we needed to take part. This free online certification program by Avocados from Mexico is available for produce professionals to become an "avo expert" with valuable knowledge you can apply directly to your business. What a better way for a buyer (or marketer) to engage with the product, know how to market and merchandise it! Brilliant!
SUNSET also used their Queen of Greens product to showcase their company's dedication to the earth-friendly, safe and high quality benefits that comes along with greenhouse growing. Who wouldn't love this packaging and branding that is energetic and full of personality? We do!
Messaging & Positioning
We very much enjoyed seeing brands having fun with their Marketplace Page themes and messaging! Capturing the attention of a busy buyer in a few seconds is a challenge we can respect, and these exhibitors had no problem turning the virtual show into a messaging opportunity.
One of the things that can be a bit of a challenge when attending a tradeshow in person for the first time is remembering people's names. With the virtual nature of our first Fresh Summit, this was not a concern for us at all. Instead, we were able to peruse the Marketplace at our leisure and connect with the right people where appropriate. We noticed several companies that took the time to make an extra effort to position their team in a unique way, like EarthFresh! You can see below how the team customized their headshots specifically for the show. Hi, Stephanie! 👋
For the first-timers, the sessions were essential for networking and learning during Fresh Summit. Exploring the Marketplace pages can only do so much. Listening in on some of the top professionals in the field though - that’s quality education time that you can’t get anywhere else. Here are some of the sessions that hyped us up and captured our attention.
Women's Fresh Perspectives
Our favorite part about the Women’s Fresh Perspectives was the discussion around "inclusion and diversity". This is such a necessary topic for people to grasp and understand. We don’t have inclusion without diversity. And without diversity, we can’t function to the best of our abilities as marketers in the world. This type of conversation got us thinking and led us into a headspace to strive to do better.
The 10X Mindset to Navigate Exponential Change
Another educational high was the Technology General Session: The 10X Mindset to Navigate Exponential Change. The biggest take-away from this session were "the key steps to adventurous thinking". If you haven't watched the replay on demand, the rundown of this particular piece of Sally Dominguez’s session was how to elevate and expand your ways of thinking.
Selling a Healthier You! Session
Last but certainly not least, we thoroughly enjoyed the Selling a Healthier You! session which featured our leader, Dan’l Almy. One of the topics within this conversation was how we can leverage marketing to share the emotional impact of fresh foods and to us, the answer is obvious because food is life! “Eating is an innately emotional experience”, said Dan’l, and we believe whole-heartedly that she's right! When you think about it, most special occasions in our lives are celebrated with people around a table breaking bread and enjoying delicious food together. And when food is made fresh, it is an act of service that expresses emotions like love and a desire to be connected on a deeper level. This session was an eye-opener and a validator for us as newbies.
Overall, PMA Fresh Summit offered us, the first-timers, an eye-opening experience that we will cherish for years to come. Now with this special experience in the books, we agree that we have chosen to work in an industry that is purposeful and colorful, delicious place to be.