More than 15 major buyers to attend PMA Fresh Connections: Retail in Philadelphia

More than 15 major produce buyers are scheduled to attend the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Connections: Retail event April 5-6 at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott in Philadelphia. The event features a keynote by PMA Chief Executive Officer Cathy Burns on the power of the consumer, and a new, interactive education format led by participants.

PMA Fresh Connections: Retail will connect produce suppliers with U.S. retailers, including Wegmans, Target, Ahold USA and at least a dozen other major buyers. This event typically sells out in advance each year. Advance registration ends March 27.

Burns, who assumed the CEO role on Feb. 1 after serving as PMA president since Dec. 2013, will open the general session with a talk titled Driving Our Conversations: The Power of the Consumer. The kickoff session will address the biggest consumer trends in fresh produce, and will explore shoppers’ purchasing habits related to convenience, technology and health.

Facilitator Bill Aal, managing partner of UnConference.net, will then guide participants through four, 45-minute education blocks. Using the “UnConference” format, participants will form small groups around common topics of interest to discuss ideas, spur creative collaboration and brainstorm solutions to emerging industry problems.

Conference attendees will lead the education sessions, decide on topics and generate the day’s agenda. Everyone will play a role as leader and/or participant. Possible approaches include sharing an idea or case study to discuss, posing a problem or question to solve, or teaching others. For example, discussion topics could include technology and the consumer, health trends, convenience, food on the go, or other such trends affecting consumer demand of fresh fruits and vegetables.

While groups will form onsite, registrants should consider the following question in advance designed to inspire and guide conversations: How can we harness the evolution of convenience and technology to make life easier and more delightful for consumers?

An attendee guide is also available on the pma.com Fresh Connections: Retail event page that explains the UnConference style and will help participants prepare. The guide gives advice on possible discussion formats; convening and hosting an UnConference session; and tips to make the sessions dynamic, meaningful and productive.

“Changes in technology, convenience, and health trends are redefining the conversations between retailers and consumers, so it makes sense that PMA explore ways to engage differently with our members and industry through this new event format,” Burns said. “The self-directed small groups will provide fantastic opportunities for attendees across the supply chain to connect and discuss opportunities and challenges they are facing in their businesses.”

While the education session format of PMA Fresh Connections: Retail is new this year, the event, as always, will provide many networking opportunities for retailers and suppliers to make connections to grow their businesses.

Buyers at this year’s event include Affiliated Foods Inc. (Amarillo); Ahold USA Inc.; Associated Wholesale Grocers; Bozzuto’s Inc.; C&S Wholesale Grocers; Crest Fresh Market; Fresh Formats; HelloFresh; Kings Food Markets; MOM’s Organic Market; Niemann Foods Inc.; PRO*ACT; Skogen’s Festival Foods; Target Corp.; The Fresh Market; Tops Friendly Markets; Wakefern Food Corp.; and Wegmans Food Markets Inc.

The Fresh Connections: Retail event is open to PMA members and prospective members; PMA members receive registration discount.

PMA Fresh Connections: Retail is one of many global events hosted by PMA that connect businesses and individuals from across the produce and floral supply chains. Other PMA Fresh Connections produce events are held annually in China, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and South Africa. Fresh Connections: Floral events are held in Miami and Anaheim, CA. Visit pma.com for a complete list of events where members always receive discounted registration.

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