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ORLANDO, FL -- Produce Marketing Association's 2010 Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition drew a record-breaking audience from the global supply chain when it convened Oct. 15-18, attracting 18,284 attendees from 58 countries to Orlando's Orange County Convention Center.

Begun 61 years ago primarily as a networking event, Fresh Summit has expanded to include industry-leading education and information today.

This year's Fresh Summit broke the previous East Coast attendance record of 17,503 set in 2008, the last time it was held in Orlando. The 2010 event also attracted a record 3,938 buyers from retail, foodservice and wholesale- distribution. Fresh Summit's attendance record of 19,060 was set in 2009 in Anaheim, CA.

"We measure success not by attendance numbers but by the quality of the experience our participants tell us they had," John Oxford, president and chief executive officer of L&M Cos. and vice chairman of the volunteer-led Fresh Summit Committee, said in Oct. 19 press release from PMA. "We are hearing that this year's Fresh Summit delivered real business value on many levels, from the networking opportunities connecting buyers and sellers to the educational sessions designed to help attendees to innovate and to build the new relationships they will need to grow their businesses for the future."

PMA President and CEO Bryan Silbermann agreed, adding in the release, "While we are always proud of the value our members see in Fresh Summit, it is but one of the many ways that PMA offers year-round value to our global supply chain -- from the experts we have hired from industry, to our expanded volunteer leadership opportunities, to our many other educational and networking events and our expanding website content."

"Fresh Summit is the best place for us to build relationships to help streamline our business planning for next year," Matt Lucovich, director of sales and marketing for To-Jo Mushrooms Inc. in Avondale, PA, said in the release. "The networking we've done in one weekend would take us months to do on our own."

"We've been to several produce trade shows this year, and by far Fresh Summit has been the most successful for us," Robert Ferri, manager for New York Produce in Secaucus, NJ, added in the release.

Next year's Fresh Summit will be held Oct. 14-17, 2011, in Atlanta. The 2011 exposition was already more than 90 percent booked by the end of the 2010 event, the release concluded.