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Salinas pavilion set for PMA Fresh Summit

For the first time ever, growers, shippers and suppliers from the Salinas Valley will exhibit their products together at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention this October in Anaheim, CA.

The Grower-Shipper Association of Central California is serving as the umbrella organization for its members and will attempt to duplicate the success it has had with its “Salad Bowl of the World” pavilion concept that it debuted at the 2011 United Fresh Produce Association convention and repeated this year.

“This is the second year that we exhibited together at United and I would definitely say that it was a GSA-PavilionAt the recent United Fresh 2012 show in Dallas, members of the Salinas Valley produce community joined together to exhibited their products in a central area for the second straight year. The group will do the same in a Salinas pavilion at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit convention this October in Anaheim, CA.success,” said Abby Taylor-Silva, vice president of policy and communications at the Salinas-based grower association.

At the United Fresh 2012 convention, the group had seven different companies exhibit, including six shippers and one service provider. “We held a promotion where we gave away an iPad to one lucky winner.”

Ms. Taylor-Silva explained that each visitor was given an entry card that they needed to get stamped at each booth, which encouraged the attendees to visit all the booths in the pavilion. The winner was from a Virginia supermarket chain.

“We also sampled Monterey County wines at the end of each day, which was very popular,” she said. “We were very pleased that our pavilion became a go-to destination.”

She said that they are expecting to repeat that performance at PMA and will hold a similar promotion. “We are currently looking at the format and we expect to design a place that has a walkable area that will allow people to visit the entire ‘Salad Bar of the World’ with one stop.”

Ms. Taylor-Silva said that the motivation behind the concept is to develop a cost-effective way to have the association’s members from the Salinas and Pajaro valleys promote together to allow customers to learn all about the products from the Salinas area in one contiguous exhibit space.

Any member of the association is welcome to join the effort. For the PMA show, she said, “We currently have eight shippers and room for one or two more.”

One of those shippers is The Nunes Co. Vice President of Marketing Matt Seeley explained his company’s participation, which in the past has had a booth of its own at Fresh Summit.

“More than ever, we need to focus our resources on programs that return the best value on our investment,” he said. “Does it make sense to spend an inordinate amount of money on 12 hours of exhibit time at one large show, when those resources can be better spent in other areas? The growth of regional shows and support of various retailer and wholesaler shows during the course of a year show us that our dollars can be better spent in these smaller, more frequent shows as opposed to spending it all at once at one larger show. The concept of the pavilion makes a great deal of sense in today’s climate and beyond.”

Lorri Koster, chief executive officer of Mann Packing Co., based in Salinas, who was the original champion of the Salinas pavilion idea, told The Produce News via email, “Many international produce shows place exhibitors by country or region as that is how most categories are managed and procured. It makes sense logistically and economically to work together to promote California’s amazing Salinas Valley —the Salad Bowl of the World. Not to mention pouring some amazing wines from Monterey County to our visitors at the end of the day.

“Our go-to-market strategy today consists of headquarter calls at least once a quarter,” she continued. “These shows have become more of a meet-and-greet for us than hard selling. We do that all year long. Nowadays we need a home base on the show floor, not an entire baseball field.”