Foodservice and Produce Vets Discuss the Value of PMA Foodservice
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
MONTEREY, CA - As July warms up, I’m gearing up for days in the water, barbecues, and PMA Foodservice. Having sold out its booth spaces weeks before the show, this event usually offers some tasty insights into what could be the next big thing to hit menus while completely focusing on fruits and vegetables.
"The PMA Foodservice Conference is a very targeted and focused event. The entire foodservice produce supply chain is all in one place, from the growers to the chefs. The Buyers Roundtable has been a win-win every year for all who participate!" Gene Harris, Senior Purchasing Manager for Denny's Corporation, shared of the annual show.
While I definitely agree with Gene on the point that practiced points on the agenda like the Buyers Roundtable are sure bets for success, I can’t help but be excited for all the new things on the docket this year, not the least of which is PMA’s first time holding the expo on Saturday rather than Sunday.
“I am very excited for the new days this year,” said Brian Cook, President of recently rebranded Pete’s. “Having Sunday as a travel day will allow me to not have to rush through the expo to try and make it back for Monday.”
Brian is among many grateful for the change. In my previous discussion with event Co-Chairs Nichole Towell and Jill Overdorf, both shared that the change was made in response to feedback from loyal attendees. And the timing isn’t the only new addition.
Attendees and exhibitors this year can look forward to PMA’s Foodservice Conference Networking Reception on Friday, July 26, from 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m., just after the debut À La Carte education sessions—five topical engagement stations attendees can choose from to get the most from their time. Topics include produce safety, trends, sustainability, top technology of tomorrow, and talent. The reception will be held for the first time in The Barns at Cooper Molera, a refurbished, historic venue in Monterey a few blocks from the convention center.
“PMA’s Foodservice Conference & Expo offers a strong ROI. I attend because it offers the most unique networking experience and offers many opportunities to connect with industry counterparts dedicated to the foodservice segment,” Cathy Leffingwell, Director of Produce Supply Chain at Brinker International, said on the subject. “The education and expo showcase the latest foodservice trends and spark ideas on ways to expand produce variety in our menu offerings. There’s so much to see and sample. The business value can’t be beat.”
On point with this, too, is Members Helping Members on Saturday, July 27. Experts from both FreshXperts and TMD Creative will hold four, 60-minute free consults for a total of eight sessions in strategic marketing, maximizing every moment you’re in beautiful Monterey, California.
Also, for the first time, most first-time foodservice exhibitors will showcase together at the expo Saturday in the DeAnza Ballroom, which features the Inspiration Garden lounge. The Serra Ballroom, with 95 exhibitors, features The Zen Den lounge in the center.
The second floor will also offer The Buzz Lounge, complete with cheese and produce pairings served with local Monterey wine and beer tastings, and much more.
Need more incentive? Here are a few more industry voices counting down to the big event:
“The PMA Foodservice show in Monterey, California, is by far my favorite event in the produce industry. The proximity to major production regions and shipping points makes this event great for meeting with shippers and touring fields/coolers. The show itself is intimate and easy to navigate. For me personally, it is a can't-miss event." – Ethan Stewart, Associate Director, Produce, HelloFresh US
“The PMA Foodservice Conference provides a great destination for PRO*ACT’s network of distributors from across North America, in addition to valuable networking opportunities for our procurement team who meet with current and prospective suppliers throughout the conference events.” – Max Yeater, President/CEO, PRO*ACT, LLC
“Chefs, if you are looking to expand your network of the major suppliers in fresh produce, then you need to be at this show!” – Chef Mark Garcia, Vice President, Foodservice & Culinary Innovation, Kum & Go
“The Foodservice Conference & Expo is always one of my favorite events of the year. I love seeing all the new innovations companies and chefs are offering. I also get face time with all the key decision makers that I want to talk to in an environment that isn’t as hectic or rushed as other shows. It allows for better relationship building and always reinvigorates me when I go back to the office.” – Kristen Reid, Executive Vice President, Mixtec
“I’ve been in the business for 15+ years and every year the PMA Foodservice conference is always enlightening and humbling to learn how much I don’t know! Every year the connections and educational tools I pick up at PMA Foodservice Conference helps manage the produce supply chain throughout the year.” – Michelle Weaver, Sr. Manager Produce Services, Centralized Supply Chain Services
Featuring about 200 exhibitors and a record 36 participants in the Fresh Ideas Showcase, with new faces already among exhibitors, buyers, and attendees—in addition to past participants eager to join PMA again to check out what’s new and different—this is a produce-focused event just for foodservice. Why would you miss it?