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Innovate today for tomorrow’s success

Foodservice operators are increasingly thinking “innovation first” as they move to capture market share and deliver exciting culinary options that appeal to today’s marketplace and consumers.

This year, the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference & Expo will give attendees an opportunity to hone their skills, discover strategies that have direct real-time impact on delivery, close gaps and build important relationships for the future.ConventionOV4Consumers are increasingly becoming experimental in their own kitchens as they learn more about meal preparation and flavor handling through cooking shows and magazines. Photo courtesy of the Produce Marketing Association.

The conference is being held in stunning Monterey, CA, at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa, July 29-31. Last year, the conference saw 1,870 attendees, including more than 200 operators and over 480 distributors/wholesalers at the convention’s intimate atmosphere.

The 2016 conference promises to deliver new insights and help solidify relationships between the foodservice sector and the fresh produce industry.

Attendees will have a chance to take advantage of some social pre-convention activities sponsored by the Center for Growing Talent by PMA. These include the Talent Tournament and Joe Nucci Memorial Golf Tournament. Activity kicks into high gear on July 29 with the 5K Race for Talent, designed to get the juices flowing.

This year’s educational sessions have been designed to focus on foodservice trends. “Hands-On Fruit & Vegetable Training” will provide attendees with some of the latest menu trends, as well as tips on care, handling and usage of fresh fruit and vegetables items that can help restaurants “innovate the plate” with global flavors.

The emcee for this session is Jill Overdorf, corporate executive chef and director of business development, Coosemans LA Shipping.

Attendees should prepare for a full day of intensive activity on Saturday, July 30 with four sessions available.

The session, “Turning Your Customers Into Advocates” will be presented by Professor Jonah Berger of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Find out why the marketing landscape is changing and discover strategies that companies can use to solidify consumer relationships.

Tim York, chief executive officer of Markon Cooperative Inc., will moderate a discussion on “Food Safety: Positioning Yourself as a Trusted Source.”

During this session, you’ll learn about the latest best practices in food safety and gain real-world strategies for sharing information with consumers while positioning your company as a source for high-quality fresh produce. You’ll learn how to communicate effectively with buyers and consumers, using the right channels and the right information, to build a trusted brand. Session speakers are Bob Whitaker, chief science & technology officer, Produce Marketing Association; Lance Donny, chief executive officer of On Farm; Robert Stovicek, president of Primus Labs; and Chef Kyong Carroll, executive chef, Bon Appetit@Google.

The world of flavor explosion will be discussed at “Fascinating Flavors: Enticing Customers with Tastes and Trends.” Consumers are increasingly exploring new and exciting flavor options as they dine out and are becoming more experimental in their own kitchens as they interact with the world of cooking shows and magazines. Session speakers are Patty Johnson, global food and drink analyst; Mintel Carol Christensen, director of institutional advancement, Monell; and Chef Tony Baker, Montrio Bistro.

And finally, attendees will learn what will be hot when it comes to the rising stars of fresh produce. The session, “Menus of Change: From Seed to Stalk” will discuss factors influencing fine and casual dining, and trends consumers are taking advantage of today. This session, presented by Celebrity Chef Richard Blais of Juniper and Ivy, is designed to be both fun and educational.

PMA will host its Women’s Fresh Perspectives Reception the evening of July 30.

The convention will wrap up on July 31 with a number of activities including the Foodservice Produce Expo.

Networking opportunities will be available throughout the course of the conference.

For further information, visit