Melissa's 2019 PMA Fresh Summit Picks

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Fri. October 25th, 2019 - by Melissa De Leon Chavez

ANAHEIM, CA - This particular edition of Picks is a little close to home for me, literally. Because the big shows tend to be a timezone or two away, with the days seemingly on hyperdrive, it can be a bit blurry what was seen, heard, smelled, and tasted. This year, though, I was able to see 24,000-plus industry members come together in my home state. While I am grateful not to be jet-lagged, I can appreciate many of you were and thank you for making the trek to the West Coast to treat all of our senses to the innovations everyone has been working on.

So without further ado, here are but a few of the many impressive introductions unveiled at this year’s PMA Fresh Summit.

Ocean Mist® Farms Organic Artichokes Sustainable Packaging

This item first grabbed my attention while perusing PMA’s Fresh Ideas Showcase. Artichokes are beautifully floral in appearance, and it was eye-catching to see them shown off in an open, recyclable container the way Ocean Mist Farms had them displayed at Fresh Summit. Sustainable and organic, you might even say they had a lot of heart.

Highline Mushrooms Simple Sides Sauté Kits Line

My fiancé and I sit on opposite sides of the millennial spectrum (yes, there is a difference between those born in the 80s versus the 90s) in that I am likely to prepare something one way until Instagram, Pinterest, or an industry insider tells me otherwise. He, on the other hand, is not afraid of culinary experimentation. The result? He will love the new flavor ideas Highline Mushrooms brings to its sautéed mushrooms, while I am going to dig applying my critical thinking skills to work rather than dinner. As the mushroom category continues to rise, I imagine many other consumers will feel the same.

Mastronardi Produce (SUNSET®) KABOOM!™ Black Jalapeño Pepper

It is the spooky season, so what better time to try a dark spin on this flavor favorite? California-born with Latin blood pumping, I was thrilled to see a new spin on this hot item that I’m sure will open new, obsidian-esque doors to favorites like nachos, french fries, and all the other jalapeño possibilities. Morticia Addams, eat your heart out.

Little Potato Company New Easy Sides Line

Being quick, convenient, and providing multiple new flavors for a traditional favorite were definitely all top of mind this year, and this line checked off all three. Potatoes take too long, your shoppers say? Pre-cut, pre-seasoned, and ready in minutes, I wouldn’t be surprised if attendees of all badge colors grabbed a bag of Little Potato Company’s Easy Sides, along with one of Highline’s Simple Sides Sauté Kits, and celebrated being halfway done with a quick, fresh, healthy dinner after a long flight home from Fresh Summit.

Owyhee’s New Sustainable Hemp Bags

Another key phrase not to be forgotten was sustainability, especially in terms of packaging. In addition to Ocean Mist Farms’ attractive take on this rising necessity, Owyhee stood out to me with its self-supplied hemp bags to package onions and potatoes with both sustainability and style. Though I think consumers might want to recycle them by using them over and over until they disintegrate, rather than directly disposing of them for reprocessing as the grower might have intended.

One of my favorite parts of PMA Fresh Summit is how everyone turns up with some amazing new items from deep in the R&D vaults, but this brings with it the caveat of a limited word count when it comes time to write about them. Suffice it to say, our industry definitely raised the bar another notch or two this year, making everyone hungry for what’s to come in 2020.