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Major Buyers to Attend PMA Fresh Connections: Retail


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More than 15 major produce buyers are scheduled to attend the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Connections: Retail event April 5-6, 2017, at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott in Philadelphia, Pa. The event features a keynote by PMA CEO 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 December 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: “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 explores ways to engage differently with our members and industry through this new event format,” Burns says. “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 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 (Amarillo); Ahold USA; Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG); Bozzuto’s; C&S Wholesale Grocers; Crest Fresh Market; Fresh Formats; HelloFresh; Kings Food Markets; MOM’s Organic Market; Niemann Foods; PRO*ACT; Skogen’s Festival Foods; Target Corp.; The Fresh Market; Tops Friendly Markets; Wakefern Food Corp.; and Wegmans Food Markets.

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

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