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PMA's tech focus to help produce industry work smarter, not harder

When Produce Marketing Association’s first-ever Fresh Connections: Technology convenes Feb. 20 in St. Petersburg, FL, the association will also kick off a year-long focus on helping the global fresh produce and floral industry to harness technology to work smarter, not harder.

“Our industry is challenged like never before to increase produce and floral production with fewer resources, while also bolstering consumer confidence in food safety,” said Andy Kennedy, chair of PMA’s science and technology committee and co-founder of traceability and transparency solution provider FoodLogiQ. “Working smarter and more efficiently is the competitive advantage.”schwwarPatrick Schwedtfeger

PMA’s new Fresh Connections: Technology event will bring together the right people, relevant insights and practical solutions to help attendees capitalize on the right technology decisions for their businesses. This event is designed for company decision makers from the production side of the supply chain, including growers, packers, shippers and processors.

Working smarter, not harder “starts with taking a strategic, not a reactive, approach to evaluating technology,” said Bob Whitaker, PMA chief science and technology officer. “The key to making the most of technology is to make technology decisions at the right time and for the right reasons for your business.” Fresh Connections: Technology is designed with that in mind, he noted.

This unique event will begin with a networking lunch to kick-start interaction between attendees, presenters and PMA staff subject-matter experts. Whitaker will serve as the conference’s emcee and moderator. To set the stage for working smarter, not harder, business futurist Patrick Schwedtfeger will deliver an opening keynote presentation. Schwedtfeger specializes in technology trends, including artificial intelligence, blockchain and social media.

Then fresh produce industry leaders will offer attendees their real-world experiences finding the right technology to address their business challenges. Next, 10-minute Lightning Learning Labs will introduce attendees to a range of products, services or processes, followed by a chance to ask questions. During the final educational session, Whitaker will tie the day’s learnings together.

Fresh Connections: Technology will conclude with a networking happy hour to give attendees the chance to discuss what they’ve learned with speakers, Lightning Learning Lab presenters and their fellow attendee peers.

Register for Fresh Connections: Technology by Jan. 15 for early-bird savings. Growers, shippers and processors receive deep discounts on registration fees. PMA members and supporters of PMA’s Gold Circle Campaign will also enjoy savings. For more information about the event and to register for it, visit

Gold Circle supporters are industry leaders who are committed to helping the fresh produce industry remain at the forefront of food safety. Gold Circle contributions fund critical programs and research. To learn about the benefits of being a Gold Circle supporter, visit

Event kicks off year-round technology focus
Fresh Connections: Technology is just one example of the technology-centric solutions that PMA’s science and technology team will offer association members in 2018. Tech Knowledge will return for the fourth year May 2-3 in Monterey, CA. PMA will also be integrating technology topics into other Fresh Connections events as well as science- and technology-themed webinars planned throughout the year.

Meanwhile, research, articles and other resources to help members harness technology are available 24/7/365 via the Technology topics page on PMA’s 2017 Tech Trends paper, “Solving for Labor,” examines produce and floral innovations and the challenges and opportunities they represent. Several exclusive articles discuss taking a whole systems approach to automation. This content is viewable at

“PMA is committed to helping our members understand their true technology needs, and then mapping strategies to ensure maximum return on their investment,” said Whitaker.