March/April – 2006
Author: Lisa Crooks
Popeye has the most complete line of nationally distributed spinach items in the US and Canada.
The organisers of the 56th annual Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) 2005 Fresh Summit International Convention and Exposition PMA attracted 17,000 people and 800 exhibitors from 70 countries. All gathered at the Georgia World Congress Center between 4-8 November 2005. The professionalism for the entire event was wonderful, the experience and knowledge gained in a matter of five days, unbelievable!
Cartoon characters were a feature of the Summit to bring fresh produce to life.
As President of the PMA, Brian Silbermann, showed us the state of the industry with his insight into trends, issues, and opportunities from many different perspectives. Looking at fresh produce food service, projected sales in 2005 was a cool $476 billion, showing 13 years of consecutive growth, and a 47% share of the food dollar. This means consumers are buying more fruit and vegetables. The consumer is telling us what they want, and America showed me what they had to offer.
There were 29 different presentations from motivational presenters from around the world, covering: global trade, technology, hot topics, packaging, professional development, supply chain, consumption, and food safety. I was grateful to be travelling with Maxine Grieve from ‘Value Adding Adelaide Plains’ in South Australia. This organisation helps to develop new market and product opportunities for local business at the quality or premium end of the market. Also travelling with our group was Sue Foster, from Fosters Herbs in South Australia, and Mark McLauchlan, CEO of Foodlands. Between the four of us, attending all the workshops was still a challenge. More time was needed; also concurrent sessions would have been appreciated. There was so much information handed to us, I wanted to see it all!
Morning sessions were served up with an enticing breakfast, where sponsors promoted there products. This gave us a fantastic opportunity to network with others from around the world. Topics covered at breakfast were: Building Sustainable Market Leadership, and Maximising your ‘Return on Customer’, which takes customer relationship to the next level. The week ended with some light-hearted entertainment presented by Scott Adams, the cartoonist, sharing his journey of success in becoming the creator of ‘Dilbert’.
Other workshop topics included:
Reinventing Produce, Re-invigorating Profits
Taking a fresh produce commodity and redefine its perception in the eyes of the consumer in order to increase sales and consumption.
A unique in store display for fresh lettuce.
Another novel idea for marketing indoor plants.
Economic Influences on the Global Produce Market
How global economic indicators relate to the produce industry, and what has the greatest impact.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Data) What’s New, What’s Next
Latest developments and how the implications of these innovations could lead to greater returns for your operations.
Perfecting the Food Service Supply Chain
The answer lies in better communication and understanding. Learning how to identify some of the issues within the supply chain.
Competitive Strategies in Today’s Retail Environment
Produce Business magazine research results gave us insights into EDLP and high/low strategies, the power of loyalty cards, and the role of special buys in the retail stores.
If You Package It, They Will Buy
How packaging influences consumer purchases and what the industry could do to make them buy more.
Advanced Selling Skills: Ready, Set, Close
Assessing your level of selling and providing you with strategies, on how to increase sales significantly, by making a few small changes to your sales process.
The Role of the Wholesaler: Changing Times, Changing Roles
Wholesalers must provide value-added services by acting more as consultants to their customers, creating a mutually beneficial partnership with your customers.
A Town Hall on Transportation, Identifying Opportunities
Open discussion on critical transportation. Industry leaders offered their opinion on what initiatives they believe need to be undertaken. Yes, they have the same issues throughout the world.
Sales for All Seasons
Increasing non-holiday sales in the floral department, using the ‘5 senses’ approach to merchandising, and new opportunities for sales and the out of the box techniques and promotions needed to capture these markets.
A Proactive Approach to Your Food Safety Program
Having a solid food safety action plan is a critical element to your organisation’s future success. This session provided an overview for developing a plan of action, including the proactive measures you should incorporate.
International Retailing Trends, Lessons, and Opportunities
Examples of global retail trends and best practices – including technology, sourcing and merchandising from leaders in the industry.
Increase Revenue through Improved Positioning
Designed especially for non-marketing professionals – how your products compete with those that are more fun, more convenient, taste better or cost less.
Strategies for Transport Packaging
A panel of supply chain experts outlined the realities of iceless packaging and returnable packaging; the challenges surrounding supply and demand and cold chain maintenance.
Technology for Supply Chain Excellence
Consider technology such as e-commerce, barcodes, RFID tags and ‘smart shelves’ that can help you improve your operations and increase the speed and efficiency of the supply chain.
Spotting Consumer Trends
Understanding emerging consumer trends within the produce industry and how to profitably position your products: and meet ever-changing consumer demands.
If Produce Is So Good, Why Isn’t More on the Menu?
This was an interactive panel discussion on how to help your customers get more fresh produce, and what were the obstacles.
Implementing a Produce Safety Action Plan and Commodity Specific Guidelines
In response to food-borne illness associated with produce, the FDA is writing a ‘Produce Safety Action Plan’ designed to help prevent future outbreaks.
Connecting with the Customer:Taking Relationships to the Next Level
How will your actions today increase the value of your customer base tomorrow? Discovering how to leverage the strengths of the organisation to grow shareholders’ value.
Equipping you with the basics of data synchronisation: what it is, why it is important, how it can benefit you, and where this critical process is heading.
Produce Managers Speak Out:
Consumer Behaviour As Seen Through Their Eyes
What do consumers do in reality as opposed to what they say, what consumers really value in a produce department, and what observations produce managers can share about consumer purchasing behaviour.
Everything you need to know about floral label requirements
Could the floral labelling regulations impact your business? Are you compliant with regulations. This session outlined mandatory requirements, and how some companies are handling the challenges of compliance.
Surviving and FDA Inspection:
Preparation, Compliance, and Action
Understanding your rights and what you need to do in order to be prepared for an FDA inspection.
The Secrets to Global Market Access
Hearing how some companies have gained market access into two of the biggest global markets, the United States and China. Learning from others what obstacles they had to overcome and what kind of preparation you must do before attempting entry.
Hiring Tomorrow’s Top Performers
Learning vital facts about the workforce of the future, and helping to identify what will motivate it.
The Complexities of Global Shipping
Discovering the challenges that both exporter and importer face, and what innovations have been developed to solve these challenges to increase efficiencies.
How Well Do You Understand Your Customers, and Theirs?
The importance of research can enhance supply chain communication and collaboration; examples of cutting-edge strategies that have helped companies enhance their supply relationships with consumers and supply chain partners. Options available for gathering valuable information, and how to gather and interpret your own research.
Time was allocated to visit the exhibition site of the PMA with around 800 exhibitors. There was plenty to see. Many countries from around the world proudly showcased there displays, some bringing in cartoon characters to promote products, chefs to prepare food, and authors to sign books – no stone was left unturned. Congratulations to the exhibitors; they helped to make the Summit the success it was.
The Summit identified two types of consumers to market fresh food products. The first is the consumer who wants everything done for them, just zap and serve. The type of consumer is the one who enjoys starting from scratch and preparing food. Both the supermarket and farmers’ market have a larger variety of choices. For example, take the simple carrot. It comes in different colours, typically orange, and now comes in purple and white. Options available to the customer include: whole, baby, diced, grated, sliced, julienne, carrot chips, some packs in plain orange while others are multi-coloured, pre-packed, vacuumed packed, partially cooked, blended with other vegetables, displayed with dip, and packaged on serving trays: all displayed on the shelf, be it in the fresh produce department, the freezer or the meat section, even to the deli. It was hard to choose the most popular line, as quantity of stock on the shelf appeared to be the same.
Supermarkets display fresh produce in a variety
of ways to capture consumer interest.
An assorted array of fresh produce to tempt the consumer.
By this stage of the conference, I was grateful for a change of pace and ready to be taken to the shops to see the finished products. Supermarkets are offering a larger variety in America catering more for the convenience shopper. Only some stores continue to use the black boxes; most have now opted for narrower and taller individual displays, giving the appearance of quantity and variety on the shelves with pre-cut, ready to serve, throw away containers. Then there are the farmers’ markets, offering variety plus tempting the taste buds for the more unusual. The farmers’ markets are strategically placed in more upmarket areas. In many of the markets you not only find fruit and vegetables, but also fresh seafood, a meat section, and a dairy section, including cheeses. Alcohol also appears to be a popular line with Australian wines proving very popular.
As growers, we are encouraged to see the new ideas, then to ask ourselves how we can do that better? The one thing that is clear, is that value adding is big in America!
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About the author
Lisa Crooks is a Queensland-based hydroponic and soil parsley grower.