PMA Foodservice Delivers Promise on Innovations, Awards, and More

Fri. July 29th, 2016 - by Jessica Donnel

MONTEREY, CA - Another successful PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo went down in the books this past weekend, once again uniting buyers and suppliers from across the foodservice industry, and bringing us all a healthy dose of innovation, education, and networking opportunities.

Cathy Burns, President, PMA

"The 35th annual Foodservice Conference & Expo set records across the board for PMA. We had 1,952 attendees join us (including more than 485 foodservice distributors and more than 190 foodservice operators), marking three consecutive years of record attendance. The Foodservice Expo was the largest in event history with 204 exhibitors, 47 of which were first-timers," PMA President Cathy Burns tells me. "In addition, attendees were highly engaged during the education sessions – and on social media as well – as they learned more about fresh produce’s growing role as a 'center of the plate' star and emerging consumer trends."

As Cathy mentioned, 2016 meant another year of hitting 1,952 attendees, with the conference boasting 485 foodservice distributors from across the buying community, as well over 200 exhibitors. Kicking off with Thursday’s Joe Nucci Golf Tournament, the following team of produce professionals took home the coveted First Place Foursome:

  • John Chubbuck of Vessey & Company
  • Jeremy Tucker of Valley Ag Supply
  • Michael Clayton of Railex
  • Josh Colace of Valley Ag Supply 

Even more winners of the tournament and honorable mentions can be found here.

Another major highlight of the weekend-long conference was Friday’s three education sessions set up by the PMA team. Topics like food safety, tastes and trends, and insider tips from chefs graced the ears of attendees, bringing a well-rounded wealth of knowledge to both newcomers to the foodservice arena and seasoned veterans. 

Celebrity Chef and winner of Top Chef All Stars, Richard Blais, strapped in industry members for his session, Menus of Change: From Seed to Stalk, marrying comedy and education to explain which trends we be seeing hit menus soon. 

Richard Blais, Celebrity Chef“I feel like we are in a golden era of produce,” Richard exclaimed during his talk. The chef name dropped such produce items as cactus fruit and swiss chard as the next big wave of products consumers will be ordering from top chefs.

Last but not least, the conference wrapped up Sunday with buzzing show floor. Filled to the brim with new exhibitors (45 to be exact), never-before-seen products, and flavors, the show also gave these few special companies some top bragging rights with the following awards:

Best Product Promo: Gold Coast Packing

Best Sensory Experience: National Watermelon Promotion Board

Best of Show Runner Up: Mann Packing

Best of Show Winner: Owyhee Produce

Chef Kyung Carroll at the Hollandia Table

One more winner was announced at the annual Chef Talks: A Strolling Lunch event as well. Participants offered various produce-centric dishes, and guests could then vote for their favorite. The 2016 contest winner was Hollandia Produce, with Chef Kyung Carroll, Regional Executive Chef, at Bon Appetite, preparing Gourmet Red Butter Lettuce Steak Wraps.

"Thank you to all attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, tour hosts, and program contributors for making this year’s conference a huge success," Cathy concluded. "We look forward to seeing you again next July in Monterey!"

Need more content that you may have missed from the show floor? Stay tuned as we deliver you even more highlights, and some of our favorite products and pictures from PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo 2016.

PMA Foodservice