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MONTEREY, CA -- At the Produce Marketing Association's Foodservice Conference & Exposition, here, in July 2009, PMA President Bryan Silbermann announced a new collaborative initiative among three industry associations with the objective of doubling produce consumption in foodservice over the next decade.

That effort is well underway and continues to be a major focus of PMA. At the opening general session of the 2010 PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo, Mr. Silbermann talked about the progress that is being made in building a program to make the realization of that goal a reality.

Together with the National Restaurant Association and the International Foodservice Distributors Association, "we have spent the past year in … building the chassis for the vehicle that is going to carry us along this highway over the next decade," he said. "We have created an operational plan" that all three associations are integrating into their work. "A joint message platform has been crated and is already in use," and "an integrated educational strategy is in place with programs already featured at NRA and PMA events.

Perhaps most important, he said, "PMA has created a foodservice 2020 steering committee," which includes members of relevant committees in the other organizations, "to help us identify priorities" and track progress. "Integrating the activities of all of these committees will be integral to our success over the next decade," he said.

This year's PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo set a record for attendance with registrations "approaching 1,700," Mr. Silbermann told The Produce News during the expo Aug. 1. One hundred and fifty-three exhibitors participated in the expo, which is also a record.

The three-day event kicked off Friday, July 30, with a PMA Foundation for Industry Talent golf tournament benefiting the Nucci Scholarship for Culinary Innovation. An opening reception was held Friday evening.

Preceding the opening session Saturday morning was a PMA FIT 5K run/walk. Entrants from Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, CA, finished in the top three in both the men's and women's divisions.

Panel discussions during the general session and workshops on Saturday covered a range of topics such as sustainability, food safety and traceability, the locally grown trend, the need for agriculture to do a better job of telling its story -- and, of course, what can be done to achieve the goal of doubling produce consumption in foodservice by 2020.

Other event highlights included a women's networking event and chefs' cooking demos.