The first Ohio Food Summit will be held June 23. Heading the summit is Lori
Panda, the Ohio Proud liaison in the division of markets of the Ohio
Department of Agriculture.
On June 2, Ms. Panda told The Produce News that the summit involves a
meeting in Columbus that will bring retail, restaurant and distributor buyers
to meet with Ohio suppliers. The suppliers will have tabletop product displays
and prescheduled one-on-one meetings with buyers.
"Once the summit is over in June and connections are made and sells are
done, we will follow through with in-store demos in August, which is Ohio
The Ohio Department of Agriculture, which is based in Reynoldsburg, OH, has
had successful international matchmaking events, but this is the first
domestic effort. According to the website ohioproud.org, Ohio exports $1.2
billion in food and agricultural products each year.
The domestic effort began over the winter with an Ohio buyer survey, which
confirmed a great deal of interest in buying Ohio products. These products
include not only fresh fruits and vegetables but jams, salsas, meat and many
other products. The goal is to have participation by 50 buyers and 50
suppliers. The one-on-one sessions will run for 25 minutes.
Ms. Panda said that the first Ohio Food Summit will be held at the Ohio
Exposition Center the state fair grounds, which is on Interstate 71, with good
connections from the center of the state.
Created in 1993, Ohio Proud is the Ohio Department of Agriculture's
marketing program that identifies and promotes food and agricultural
products that are made in Ohio and grown in Ohio. Agriculture is Ohio’s
number one industry, contributing more than $98 billion to the state’s
economy, according to the department.
Early this spring, Ohio Proud worked in cooperation with a program created
by the University of Kentucky and Ohio State University. This involved five
sessions that trained Ohio suppliers on how to increase their sales to
restaurants, retailers and distributors.
This year Ms. Panda’s program is continuing use of its Ohio Proud Kitchen.
This is a 24-foot-long mobile unit that is pulled by a vehicle. One side of the
unit opens to become a demonstration kitchen, complete with large-screen
televisions to help consumers clearly see what the chef is doing.
“We have been taking it around to farm markets, fairs and festivals. And
consumer trade shows. We feature local products, how to prepare items and
the importance of buying local. We tie it together by giving them options” on
using local production with recipes. Beyond suggestions, such as using Ohio-
made salsa in stews and soups, “chefs shop the market for local items and do
demos with that produce. It’s a great way to educate consumers on how to
prepare … produce in different ways. People like local produce in restaurants.
And we help them incorporate locally-grown into nice recipes for family
Ohio Proud will participate in the Nov. 12-14 Fabulous Food Show in
Cleveland. This large consumer-oriented event is scheduled to include Food
Network chefs giving demonstrations.
(For more on Ohio, see the June 14, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)