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New events and programs to launch at CPMA

Identifying the multi-stakeholder challenges in an increasingly complex marketplace is crucial for today’s produce industry professionals. To facilitate conversation on those concerns, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association will debut two new programs at its 2013 convention in Toronto: the Retail Produce Manager event and a business program.

The business program will discuss industry topics through moderated sessions with various presenters, and the Retail Produce Manager program will do so through speakers.

The Retail Produce Manager sessions are designed to cover an array of critical issues in the produce sector, drawing on the expertise and experience of four industry leaders. In addition to the four speakers, there will be a question-and-answer session at the end of the program.

“We’ve designed a program to engage retail produce managers and ensure they get the most of their CPMA Trade Show experience. Access to the trade show floor following an informative session with industry experts will expand their knowledge and inspire innovation at retail,” said CPMA President Ron Lemaire.

CPMA Manager of Education Alex Meunier noted, “The initiative was presented from the education committee and adopted this year.” The event filled up quickly, with over 200 retail produce managers participating. According to Mr. Meunier, the enrollment success means the initiative will be revisited again next year.

Program participants can look forward to exploring such critical trends and issues as picking, packing and shipping challenges for vendors; field-to-consumer issues; GMO products-myths and relevance in produce; and foodborne illness concerns.

The speakers include Rene Van Acker of Guelph University; Les Mallard, zone manager Canada at Chiquita; Aruna Spears, senior director of quality assurance of Loblaw Cos. Ltd.; and Mike Antle, executive vice president of Tanimura & Antle.

Convention goers will have the chance to discuss more hot topics in the newly developed business program. From navigating social media to identifying Canadian consumer demands, the program has a diverse set of topics. Based on talking points identified by CPMA members, four sessions will take place April 18-19, with two concurrent sessions each day.

“The business program at this year’s convention fully supports our Fresh Success theme by addressing issues and trends that impact our industry each day,” said Mr. Lemaire. “The sessions are carefully developed with our dynamic industry in mind to provide maximum value for our delegates.”

People intrigued by the advantages offered by a coherent social media strategy but unsure how to develop and implement one will want to check out Thursday’s 10 a.m. program in Room 206C in the Allstream Centre. Titled Social Media Without Wasting Your Time or Losing Your Identity: Strategy, Efficiency, and Risk Reduction, the session is presented by Randall Craig, author of the Online PR and Social Media series.

Running concurrently in Room 206D, session two is titled Regulatory Change: Impact to the Produce Industry, moderated and presented by Mike Furi from The Grocery People Ltd. This presentation addresses significant regulatory changes, including the Canada Border Services Agency’s e-Manifest program, the Safe Foods for Canadians Act and changes to standard container regulations. Participants will also hear solutions for Customs clearance and labeling issues. Presenters include James Sutton of IE Canada and representatives from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency.

On Friday at 10 a.m., Room 206C is the location of Supply Chain Reaction: Increasing Collaboration to Improve Profits, Quality and Integrity, presented by Shawn Casemore, president and founder of Casemore & Co. The session will focus on new ways of managing the produce supply chain in light of diminishing profit margins.

In Room 206D, convention goers will find Produce: What do Canadians want? This session will be moderated by Tricia Benn of Rogers Connect Market Research and Rogers Publishing. Presenters Carmen Allison of Nielson and Sunghwan Yi from the Department of Marketing & Consumer Studies at the University of Guelph will give their insights into Canadian grocery shopping habits.

Both the retail produce manager event and the business program offer wonderful opportunities for participants to keep abreast of challenges in the produce industry.