The unique in PMA Fresh Summit

We have no shortage of meetings and conferences in the fresh produce industry, but we all know PMA BB #:153708 Fresh Summit as the big one.

More than 20,000 of us gather, and for it to remain the must-attend event of the industry, we have to see, hear and experience things that we can’t anywhere else.

For many, the value of the event takes place outside the official program – the booth meetings, the dinners, the entertainment of important clients. Often, it’s putting the face with the name and voice, to better solidify a business relationship.

But most of that interaction is on us. It’s a product of being in the same place and time as so many others.

Back to PMA’s responsibility, what should we look for Oct. 17-19 in Anaheim, CA, that we won’t see anywhere else?

State of the Industry address. PMA CEO Cathy Burns brings her annual perspective at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 17. She said this fall it will highlight innovation and emerging trends, which makes it a must-attend part of Fresh Summit.

Magic Johnson. The former Los Angeles Lakers star and successful businessman speaks at 8:15 a.m. Friday, Oct. 18. We don’t show up to hear celebrities like this tell us what they know about our business, but we sometimes get some insight we can apply in our lives. And he’s a true star.

Forum for the Future. This is a new one where four entrepreneurs will pitch their produce business plans to a panel of business judges for the goal of winning $100,000 in investments for their business. This is slated for 1:45 p.m. on Thursday. This should be useful to hear four fresh ideas and how the judges will challenge their plans.

The expo. It has moved to two days, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and there’s nothing like it, at least on this continent. There will be more than 1,000 exhibiting companies, so you have to have a plan. It’s worth getting a preview at the Fresh Ideas showcase. While companies have to pay to be part of it, their products must be less than a year old.

Of course, there’s more to Fresh Summit, whether you’re running the 5K, or seeing Queen Latifah at the Women’s Fresh Perspective breakfast, or attending all the official receptions, or unofficial off-site parties.

Don’t plan on sleeping much. That’s for the flight home.

And for those of you who like looking ahead, here are the dates and locations of future Fresh Summits:
October 15-17, 2020, Dallas, TX
October 21-23, 2021, New Orleans, LA
October 27-29, 2022, Orlando, FL
October 19-21, 2023, Anaheim
October 17-19, 2024, Dallas
October 16-18, 2025, Anaheim
October 15-17, 2026, Orlando.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services