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Record numbers attend PMA’s Anaheim convention

On the day that the Produce Marketing Association’s 2014 Fresh Summit opened, Bryan Silbermann, PMA chief executive officer, promised it would be the most well-attended event in the history of the organization.

His educated guess proved accurate, as the association announced that a new record of more than 22,400 people attended the three-day event, Oct. 17-19 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California. A day of seminars and workshops was followed by the weekend trade show that featured 1,090 exhibiting companies occupying 265,300 net square feet of show space.   The previous attendance record for PMA’s annual event was about 21,200.DSC 0713PMA President Cathy Burns and Bryan Silbermann, PMA chief executive officer, entered the stage playing tambourines to 'Happy' by Pharrell.

The show itself featured a who’s who in the fresh produce industry as well as an array of innovative and cutting-edge products, ideas and marketing concepts. Of course, bountiful fresh produce from around the world filled the aisles but so did products made from chia, quinoa and flax seed. Traditional marketing images of fresh produce were plentiful but so were cartoon characters from Sesame Street, Disney and other popular culture.

Highlighting the general sessions were a couple of trendy marketers admonishing the produce firms to join the 21st century and leave traditional promotional schemes behind. In addition Silbermann and PMA President Cathy Burns set out their blueprint to how a company can survive in these changing times.

The two PMA executives highlighted several trends that companies should focus on as they set their course for the future. Burns told the audience that multiculturalism is no longer a niche but is mainstream. She said ethnic diversity in the United States and globally has created a great opportunity for the produce industry, which can capitalize on the many different items that make up this sector’s product framework.  

Silbermann indicated transparency from the field to the fork is no longer a choice but basically the cost of entry. He said firm’s must be “proactively trustworthy” if they want to catch the attention of the consumer. On this theme, Burns said “word of mouth” is still the most trustworthy means to spread information about your products and company.

The PMA CEO talked about the convenience factor and how that is shaping eating occasions for consumers in the United States.  Fresh Summit highlighted the concept with an opening party that featured a dozen food trucks serving the thousands of people who attended.  

DSC 0708Dick Spezzano, president of Spezzano Consulting, receiving the 2014 Robert L. Carey Leadership Award from Jay Pack, last year’s winner.Silbermann also said women in the workplace, one-person households and on-line purchases are trends that significantly shape produce purchases.

Burns talked about the obesity epidemic and the opportunities that the produce industry’s great nutritional story presents for marketers. She said without a change in eating habits, today’s children will be the first generation to have shorter life expectancy than their parents.

Both executive talked about PMA’s “Eat Brighter” campaign, which allows produce industry firm’s free access to Sesame Street characters on their brands and marketing tools.

The two other general sessions featured modern marketers Jeremy Gutsche of and Gary Vaynerchuk of Vaynermedia. Both admonished the crowd to forego what has gotten them to where they are and seek out what’s going to happen next. Gutsche said the “three traps of a farmer” are complacency, repetitiveness and protectiveness. He said to succeed a company has to be willing to destroy what got them there and look to the future for the next best thing. He said curiosity and trying something different is much better than repeating the past…even if it was successful.

Vaynerchuk style and approach was different but his message was the same. He said the biggest problem with most companies — in fact, pretty much all of them — is “they don’t market in the year we live in.”

He has made a living being ahead of the curve. His main message was that every firm needs to be a media company and connect with the end consumer. Don’t look for the retailer or others along the supply chain to do that for you or you will be left behind.  He said social media is the medium that should be used because that is what consumers are using. Your message can be great he said but if the consumer isn’t listening to it, it is worthless. He told the crowd that he did significant research about how the produce industry is marketing to the consumer and found it to be lacking. In fact, he said 90 percent of those dollars are wasted. He advised reallocating funds to conduct meaningful social media connections to the end user.  

During the Friday workshop sessions, perhaps the most well attended meeting was a discussion of the newly-released Food & Drug Administration supplemental proposals for the Food Safety Modernization Act. FDA Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Foods Mike Taylor and his staff analyzed the new proposals which basically add flexibility and reduce some of the testing and requirements in the initial proposals. The new rules also exclude more farms from compliance. These proposals are open for comment with final implementation of the FSMA Produce Rule scheduled for late in 2015.

The convention also featured the awarding of the 2014 Robert L. Carey Leadership Award to Dick Spezzano, president of Spezzano Consulting. “This is a man who epitomizes what it means to give back to the industry in which he’s worked for over 50 years,” said last year’s winner Jay Pack, while presenting the award to Spezzano. “He believes in reaching out to youth — to build healthy eating habits early and to attract the best and the brightest young talent.”

Spezzano is also the chairman of the PMA Foundation, which puts him back on the PMA board 20 years after he served as chairman. No industry member has ever achieved that level and length of service in the history of the organization.

Sun Pacific introduces Mighties kiwi

Sun Pacific, grower of Cuties clementines, is introduced a new brand name for its nutritious kiwifruit at PMA's Fresh Summit. As one of the largest kiwi growers in the United States, the company rebranded its Ripe & Easy kiwi as Mighties Kiwi, a new name developed to promote the little fruit’s powerful nutritious profile and delicious taste.

"Kiwi is a well-kept secret both in terms of how nutrient-packed it is and how easy it can be to eat," Victoria Nuevo-Celeste, vice president of marketing at Sun Pacific, said in a press release. "Consumers tend to think of kiwi as an exotic fruit that they are not quite sure how to prepare and enjoy. The new name makes kiwi more approachable by encouraging people to ‘Be Mightie’ and try this surprising, ready-to-eat, little super food."

Sun Pacific is making Mighties available to major retailers in one- and two-pound clamshells, and larger three- and four-pound clamshells for club and warehouse stores. New packaging will feature a Mighties kiwi character and information on nutrition. Select packages will contain a "spife," a combination spoon and knife that allows consumers of all ages to easily slice, scoop and eat kiwi.

Berne Evans, owner of Sun Pacific and produce pioneer, initiated the process of ripening kiwi in cold storage, so Mighties are ready to eat as soon as they arrive in stores.

The new Mighties brand builds on the trusted Ripe & Easy kiwi name used by Sun Pacific over the past few years, and draws on Sun Pacific's successful marketing of its Cuties clementines. The addition of Mighties to Sun Pacific's portfolio is proof of its ongoing commitment to marketing fun, healthy snack options for today’s health-conscious parents.

One serving of kiwi is truly "Mightie" when it comes to nutrition, offering more vitamin C than an orange; more potassium than a banana; more vitamin E and K than a serving of avocado; more fiber than a bowl of cereal; and natural fiber and actinidin, nutrients that aid in digestion and intestinal health.

Pro Citrus Network celebrates its 10 year anniversary with a new look

Pro Citrus Network is celebrating its 10th year in business by introducing a new look. With its new logo also comes new packaging for the upcoming California Navel season, as well as a new website to better serve its customers and growers.PCN-Orange-BOX-Med-Res-v1

"As we reflect on the past 10 years and all of PCN's accomplishments and growth, we are feeling energized for the next 10 years and beyond," Jacquie Ediger, vice president of Pro Citrus Network, said in a press release. "We have a dedicated team, a progressive group of growers and strategic alliances throughout the supply chain that will continue to allow us to grow and succeed in the ever-changing fresh produce industry."

"We're excited to launch our new logo, cartons and website to signify this milestone in PCN's history," Allan Dodge, president of Pro Citrus Network, said in the release. "In the past 10 years we have established ourselves as a company that does not just get the product to the customer, but it gets the right product to the customer. We look forward to continuing to do this for our customers and growers in the future."

The new Pro Citrus website,, launched just prior to PMA's Fresh Summit show in Anaheim, CA, and includes key information for buyers and growers of citrus, as well as the end consumer.

The new lemon and orange cartons will be released at the start of this California Season.

Envy makes believers out of apple fans

With the Washington Envy harvest now under way, the sweet, red apple enters the season inviting consumers to “Bite and Believe.”

The integrated Envy marketing campaign launched at PMA's Fresh Summit this past weekend. “Bite and Believe” is backed by significant consumer research efforts that ascertained what people are truly looking for in a premium apple, David Nelley, executive director of the Oppenheimer Group’s apple and pear category, said in a press release.Grower-Mark-GoerGrower Mark Goer

“Earlier this year we commissioned a research firm to delve into premium apple varieties,” he said. “Results pinpointed what consumers across the U.S. love about premium apples and Envy in particular. As global production ramps up, the time has come to energize the look and feel of the Envy brand.”

Envy, a natural Royal Gala and Braeburn cross, is distinguished by its deep red hue, its sweetness and its natural resistance to browning when cut. While Envy is also quite popular in Asia, North America is the most mature market for the apple, Nelley said. The campaign, which has been created collaboratively between Oppy and the Envy brand owner ENZA/Turners and Growers of Auckland, New Zealand, will touch many global markets over time.

“‘Bite and Believe’ was inspired in part by the zealous nature of Envy fans everywhere, who have taken it upon themselves to share their discovery of Envy namely via social media,” Nelley said. “To our delight, Envy has gained a host of supporters, including produce managers, moms and apple fans who have gone out of their way to spread the word. We think ‘Bite and Believe’ will be very effective because it encourages trial and promises the reward of a genuine eating experience.”

‘Bite and Believe’ will reach consumers in numerous ways, including in-store signage and shipper units, billboards in key markets, outreach and contests on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, and a new website at The clean, contemporary site is highly interactive, encouraging users to submit Envy recipes and pairing ideas, and take part in social media discussions.

“‘Bite and Believe’ and its supporting messages convey the confidence that we at Oppy — and our growers and customers — have in Envy apples,” Nelley said. “This is one special apple, worthy of the buzz. In my opinion, it’s the best apple to emanate from New Zealand since the Royal Gala.

“Envy volumes are increasing but they remain limited,” Nelley said. “We encourage our customers to order early and often, as supplies will move very quickly.”

Envy is available in North America exclusively from The Oppenheimer Group. The Washington season begins in early November and continues through May, with Envy from New Zealand and Chile available June through September.

SunFed announces sponsorship of Olympic hopeful Sofia Arreola

Sofia-21Sofia-2SunFed strives daily to grow, pack and deliver Perfect Produce. But that is not always easy… perfection never is.

Sofia Arreola, National Track Champion and two time silver medalist at the 2013 World Championships, also strives for perfection every day. That quest for perfection is something SunFed can relate to, making its decision to sponsor her quest for Olympic gold in 2016 a very easy one.

“I met Sofia about a year ago,” said Brett Burdsal, SunFed’s director of marketing. “I was immediately impressed, not only by what she had accomplished on the bike, but with her attitude and outlook on life. She is an incredibly bright and articulate young lady. She is giving everything she has to a very demanding sport. To me she embodies the healthy, active person that, regardless of age or gender, we should all strive to be.”

Arreola, who resides in Colorado Springs and races for Team TWENTY16, will be competing in the upcoming UCI track World Cups, which will include stops in Mexico, Great Britain, Columbia and France.

“Fruits and vegetables are such an important part of my day, my week, and my life,” she said. “Being able to partner with SunFed is great. I look forward to enjoying all of their incredibly fresh produce they will be sending. Absolutely nothing beats enjoying full flavored fruit or fresh vegetables as I am training, recovering or just hanging out. I am so excited by this partnership.”