Even before the trade show doors opened to anticipated record numbers, a lot went on at the CPMA Convention & Trade Show in Toronto. Whether in formal meeting rooms, in hotel lobbies or on the shuttle buses to and from the Direct Energy Centre, business relationships are being formed, renewed and strengthened.
Thursday, as exhibitors were putting the finishing touches on their displays, a full morning of activities took place for delegates. The morning breakfast featured keynote speaker Mario Pilozzi, former chief executive officer of Walmart Canada Inc., who shared some of the business and personal success of transforming Walmart Canada into the powerhouse it is today. Delegates had a choice of two business sessions: social media with expert Randall Craig of 108|ideaspace or a panel discussion on key regulatory issues with moderator Mike Furi of The Grocery People. Thursday's luncheon included an inspirational keynote address by extreme adventurer, charismatic storyteller and motivational speaker, Jamie Clarke.
During the luncheon, The Produce News presented the Fresh Health Award on behalf of Bayshore Vegetable Shippers Ltd. to Hugh Bowman, CEO and owner, and Learning Tree Canada's Joni Bowman, a top-selling curriculum writer Mr. Bowman's wife. A comprehensive curriculum package was developed by Mrs. Bowman for grades 1-6 to encourage teachers to use CPMA mascot Freggie and his message in day to day lessons incorporating math, arts, language, science and more. The Freggie Curriculum package is now available in French and English and in use across the country and has received over 3,000 downloads.
Since 1997, The Produce News and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association have presented this special award at the CPMA convention to a company or organization in recognition for its efforts to promote the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in Canada for the better health of Canadians.
Past recipients of the fresh health award have included some prestigious names: The Barn Markets, the California Strawberry Commission, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, the California Grape Commission, Thrifty Foods, BC Tree Fruits, The Oppenheimer Group, the British Columbia, Calgary, Ontario and Quebec Produce Marketing Associations, Sunkist Growers, Loblaw Companies, the Pear Bureau Northwest, Peak of the Market and Gambles Produce.
The award is presented to an organization that goes above and beyond to support the efforts of CPMA Programs such as the Fruits and Veggies - Mix it up! program and its youth component, the Freggie Children's Program.
Wednesday saw a flurry of meetings including for a lucky 200 or so the annual Loblaw Top 40 vendors event. Loblaw Executive Chairman Galen Weston was personally on hand to celebrate the successful partnerships. Frank Pagliaro, Vice President, Produce Procurement, Loblaw Companies Ltd. spoke about several programs including Grown Close to Home, Reusable Plastic Containers, and a look at the successful Vineland Growers Ontario peaches success story. Attendees were treated to a lunch showcasing seasonal fruits and vegetables hosted by Tom Filippou, executive chef, national director President's Choice Cooking Schools. The group was then shuttled to various retail tours.
The CPMA membership were invited to attend the annual general meeting where the CPMA Board was elected. There were a number of changes, including electronic voting and a sharp reduction in the size of the Board due in part to changes in the not-for-profit act. Some of the long-standing members of the CPMA Board had elected to resign when it became clear there were going to be some deep cuts required. They were thanked at the AGM for their service and dedication to the industry. The new makeup of the Board will be shared with the CPMA membership.
Wednesday evening was the always well-attended Chair's Welcome Reception. Held at impressive Toronto landmark, Casa Loma, CPMA Chair Jim DiMenna, president of J-D Marketing and lovely wife Barb DiMenna were on hand to officially greet and launch the 2013 CPMA Convention and Trade Show. Key CPMA executive and convention committee greeted guests in their finest garb, setting the tone for a regal evening.
Tuesday evening included a warm welcome from CPMA Directors for new members. What a great introduction to the CPMA fold then to be personally greeted by key industry leaders.