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The Canadian Produce Marketing Association's 85th annual convention and trade show will be held May 12-14 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. "Today, our annual convention and trade show attracts approximately 2,700 delegates and over 240 exhibitors from Canada, the United States, Mexico and many other countries," said Adrian Abbott, CPMA's 2009-10 chairman of the board. "This growth represents the confidence of the trade and recognition of the value that CPMA brings to its membership."

Mr. Abbott said that this year's event will help increase momentum to promote the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, to promote people?s health and to invest in preventative health initiatives.

"The human and financial costs of corrective health care are neither palatable nor sustainable," he said in his Message from the Chair. "Our sector is a very key part of the solution, and CPMA is leading the way."

The event will open May 12 with registration, the association's members' annual general meeting and the chairman's welcoming reception. A full slate of activities is planned for May 13-14.

On May 13, Frank Feather - a best-selling author, global businessman and futurist - will be the keynote speaker at the delegates' breakfast. Discussion by Mr. Feather will continue at the morning business session entitled "BETA is Better: Strategic Innovation." The session will discuss ways in which new consumer behavior, environmental trends and Internet coverage are converging in beta mode.

During the delegates luncheon, television sports commentator Brian Williams will speak on the topic, "Going for Gold - Lesson in Greatness from the Olympic Games." Mr. Williams is a decorated sportscaster who shaped the delivery of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, also held in Vancouver.

The afternoon business sessions will run concurrently with the trade show. The first session is entitled "Trends & Opportunities of the Ethnic Market - the Fastest Growing Produce Market in Canada." A panel of experts will discuss elements of a successful ethnic marketing campaign, retail trends and opportunities and will share information about demographics, consumer behavior and social media.

Consultant Ronnie De La Cruz will host a session specifically designed for foodservice delegates and participants. "Capturing New Customers & Building Profits with Produce" will provide participants with a host of information, including ways in which restaurant chains are using produce, the latest updates and new products within the fresh-cut category, and ways to lure new customers with fresh produce.

Activities May 14 will kick off with a retail tour of Vancouver's Chinatown, Produce Row, Gastown and Urban Fare. Two business sessions have also been scheduled during the morning. Art Hister has received international acclaim for his presentation, "Taking Charge of your Life." He will discuss ways in which eating and exercise can have a positive effect on the aging process. Dr. Hister is a supporter of the Mediterranean-style diet, which emphasizes high intake of fruits and vegetables.

"Fresh, Facts & Future - Market Insights" will be presented by Carman Allison, director of marketing communications for The Nielsen Co. Mr. Allison's presentation will include insights such as performance of fresh produce during the recent economic recession, identifying top and declining categories and understanding consumer behavior. He will also present data about the fresh produce industry and talk about the implications for potential business opportunities.

A special companion program has also been scheduled during the convention and trade show. A visit to Whistler, Canada's premier year-round destination and one of North America's top-ranked ski resorts, is planned for May 13. Whistler is nestled in Canada's Coast Mountains, two hours north of Vancouver.

CPMA plans to give attendees a chance to unwind with two special evening events. On May 13, the association will host Varity Night, billed as a night of music, fun and surprises. On May 14, the annual banquet and a masquerade ball will cap off the event.