Organic Conversations Grow at the PMA 2015 Fresh Summit

Organics Unlimited 2014 PMA Fresh Summit

Leading into the PMA 2015 Fresh Summit Convention & Expo in Atlanta on October 23-25, there’s a lot of buzz about what attendees can expect from exhibitors and speakers. More than 3,900 retail and foodservice buyers will be attending. They will browse the more than 1,000 exhibitor booths and displays, attend the 15 workshops and share ideas with other industry professionals on what’s trending in fresh produce for the 2016 year.

Organic has been a buzzword for a few years and its momentum continues to build. A recent article in The Packer shared some findings from a 2015 Independent Grocers Financial Survey by the National Grocers Association and FMS Inc. The survey shows that more than two-third of independent grocers reported organic food sales increased in 2015. Out of small-chain grocers surveyed, 72% increased their inventories of organic food items in the past year compared to 2014.

Another article in The Packer reports that Costco had increased its fresh and organic products in 2015, which resulted in an increase in net sales for the year. Accordingly, the large chain plans to continue its increase in organic products throughout 2016.

Since organic produce is a trend nationwide and grocers are seeing larger sales result from organic products, we can expect to hear the word often throughout the weekend at the PMA Fresh Summit. As Bryan Silbermann, CEO of the PMA, and Cathy Burns, president of PMA, present their State of the Industry Address on Friday morning, listen in for mentions of organic produce and its prevalence in worldwide produce marketing. Certainly as U.S. consumers continue to request organic produce, other international markets will also experience shifts in organic offerings.

Within the workshops offered at Fresh Summit, organics will certainly be a trending topic. “Data in Produce Part One: Everything is Connected: Technology, Safety & Transparency” during the first block of workshops will discuss how you can use Big Data to make your operations chain more economical and safer. Organic or not, produce safety is a critical topic for all produce growers, distributors and retailers. As consumers become more aware of pesticide and fertilizer use, they’ll continue to ask for information about their produce purchases. This workshop may provide some helpful tools that industry professionals can use to help consumers understand organic and non-organic growing operations and how they relate to food safety.

In the third block of workshops, “All Together Now: Innovative Marketing Tactics to Grow Sales” will focus on how product groups, lines or brands can drive sales through consistent marketing messaging. By banding together with other organic products, we can drive sales of not only Organics Unlimited bananas but the organics label as a whole. Additionally, marketing the produce aisle overall can help drive traffic to the fresh fruits and vegetable section within a store. Karen Caplan, president and chief executive officer of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, will take part in the workshop panel and said, “The workshop will provide a well-rounded perspective on produce marketing for attendees — from industry-wide initiatives to commodity boards and foodservice, and to the supermarket retail channel.”

The organic niche continues to grow within the overall produce industry and we can expect the prevalence of organic products at the PMA 2015 Fresh Summit to reflect that. While Organics Unlimited is not attending the 2015 convention, we look forward to the conversations and innovation that the Fresh Summit will produce!

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Photo of the Organics Unlimited team at the PMA 2014 Fresh Summit Convention & Expo.

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