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What Blew Us Away at PMA Fresh Summit 2012

Dan'l Mackey Almy

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Dan'l Mackey Almy

This year’s Fresh Summit was a whirlwind of inspired activity with the hustle and bustle elevated by a more concentrated schedule.  And that format-tweak kicks off our post-Fresh Summit list of What Blew Us Away!  Our list this year is looooooong, which is a testament to the quality of marketing and education on display in Anaheim.  We also spotted and highlighted several trends that will indeed inspire consumer connections.  Peruse our list below to see if you experienced similar examples of excellence and chime in about the things that blew you away during the event.

Thank you PMA for changing the format of the show from 3 days to 2.  We asked around on the show floor and, although we heard a mix of positive and negative reviews, the “yays” definitely outweighed the “nays”.  The last couple hours on Sunday slowed down, but we’re going to attribute that to the infamous Sandy and look forward to seeing how Year 2 plays out in New Orleans.

USA Pears demonstrated their marketing chops via a one-two punch of awesome.  First, their partnership with Lazy Town – thanks to a grant from the Washington State Department of Agriculture – really impressed us.  Especially LT’s Sportacus who flipped and walked on his hands, all while making a pair of polyester superhero pants look good.  The USA Pears folks then extended their marketing excellence directly to retailers by offering a customizable POS materials kit.  For more info on both, check out our video chat with Cristie Mather here:

SunSelect Growers' Promotional Giveaway

SunSelect greenhouse growers presented a fully integrated promotional giveaway at Fresh Summit and we’re big fans of how they capitalized on the interest in the cool grand prize to boost all their social communities.  The bright orange electric bike in their booth grabbed our attention, but the 4 easy ways to enter kept us engaged long enough to have a (hopefully) great chance of winning the Pedego Cruiser!

Sunset hit a real homerun with their mastering of “touch-point” marketing at Fresh Summit.  From the window clings at the Hilton and the Caprese Salad samples on the walk to the convention center to their interactive and high-graphic booth, the Sunset crew was exuding smart marketing from head to toe.  And speaking of toes….

Custom Converse in the Sunset Booth

 

 

With a self-identified “Chuck Head” among us, it should come as no surprise that we were blown away by the custom Converse high-tops that some of the Sunset crew were sporting in their booth on Saturday.  That, friends, is integration at its best!

Frontera Tropical Poppers

Sweet and spicy combos aren’t new on the culinary scene, but we feel the tasty idea may have just been perfected by Frontera Produce’s Executive Chef, Michelle Gonsalves Gates.  Her Tropical Poppers combined jalapeno peppers, pineapple-infused cream cheese and BACON.  And we’ve never wished for the existence of foot-long jalapeno peppers so badly in all our lives.

When you hear the word “chia”, most likely it’s that gift-craze of the 80’s that comes to mind – Ch-ch-ch-chia pets!  Who knew the seeds were not just edible, but also so nutritious they deserve and should soon receive the title of “superfood”.  We got the lowdown from Mamma Chia founder Janie Hoffman – check out what Mamma Chia Juices can do for you:

Trend Alert!  Fresh juice category is exploding!

The fresh juice category is exploding and the competition for share of shelf is resulting in some really inventive varieties, ingredients, packaging and marketing – all of which quench our gargantuan thirst for creativity.

Odwalla Juice box

The moms in this office have all appreciated the ease and convenience of juice boxes at some point in their child rearing.  And having kiddos that love fruit smoothies, we were especially stoked to see Odwalla’s new kid-sized smoothies in a box.  They are the perfect addition to all of our snack line-ups!

Trend Alert! Marketing to youngsters.

In addition to kid-sized smoothies, we experienced a trend in marketing to youngsters.  Marketing FRESH to kids is no longer just a tactic for traditional produce items like apples, clementines and bananas.

IFCO Pallet Guitar CHEP/IFCO’s in-booth entertainment grabbed our attention and wouldn’t let go.   A “School of Rock”-style band of three talented youngsters sang to the tune of their guitars, two of which were made from pallets. Creative, inspiring and a definite crowd pleaser. Bravo!

Who would have ever thought to make a taco shell out of sliced jicama and fill it with mushrooms, lettuce, tomato and cheese? Giorgio’s Mushrooms would and we’re sure glad they did.  The texture combo was incomparably delicious!

5K Run at Fresh Summit The weather was perfect for a 7:00 a.m. run through the palm trees around the Anaheim Convention Center alongside 800, that’s right, 800 other runners at the PMA Foundation’s 5K Race for Talent! At the inaugural race three years ago (also in Anaheim), having 250 runners seemed like a pipe dream.  Will we pass 1,000 next year??

 

Natural Delights' Date Palm Tree

After snagging a sample of Natural Delights’ delightful treats, all we wanted to do was lie back in a hammock and let the show roll by like ocean waves! Kudos to Natural Delights for showcasing the true star of their show, a full-grown date palm tree, right in the eye-catching middle of their booth!

John Cameron Vidalia Sweet Onion Petals Move over Funyuns and hello Sweet Onion Petals!  Bland Farms featured these crunchy snacks in their booth and we couldn’t get enough. Also, a big thank you for feeding us the most delicious Tarragon Chicken Salad EVER!  Loved it!

 

Sunlight International has turned a typically boring grape package into an occasion marketing powerhouse highlighting grapes as the perfect complement to Halloween festivities, Christmas gatherings and sunny summer picnics.

Sunlight really kicked occasion marketing up a notch, but they weren’t alone.  This strategy was on display across the show floor and is a great way to combat consumers’ established “mental programming” that causes them to only associate certain fruits and vegetables to particular times of year.  This alternative way of thinking will also result in increased consumption throughout the year!

DMA had two Career Ambassadors this year

In its 9th year, The Pack Family Career Pathways program remains a Fresh Summit highlight for the DMA team!  Being involved with the Foundation is one of the greatest values of our PMA membership and this year, we had the honor of being career ambassadors to two Texas A&M University students (surprise!).  During our time with them we learned of their interest in and enthusiasm for our industry and realized that, with students like these, the future for FRESH is bright indeed.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods - One of the many jazzed teams at Fresh Summit
The super jazzed teams at these companies were wearing, sharing and cheering on their company’s brand for all to see and hear:  Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Earthbound Farm, Taylor Farms, Frieda’s, Sunset and USA Pears.

 

 

Living Herbs Popcorn

Living Herbs popcorn was a blockbuster hit during the show!  People were constantly lined up to try their herbed butter and parmesan cheese snack.   Like we’ve probably all noticed at home or in the office, the aroma of popcorn draws a crowd and the Living Herbs folks had that figured out.  Well played!

The NatureSweet pizza bites hit the spot after a long day walking the show floor.  And the Presto Pizzazz pizza oven they used was so cool you may see it pop up in an Office Eats post in the near future!

We are usually drawn to the Ocean Mist booth and the delectable eats of Chef Tony Baker, and this year was no different!  However, as marketers, Ocean Mist’s survey tool that captured information from hungry attendees in the food line really caught our eyes.  We asked Marketing Director, Kori Tuggle-Dinner, about the new approach and she said, “We want to learn more about the people sampling our products”.  BINGO!  We couldn’t agree more.  Capturing information about the traffic visiting your booth (or your website for that matter) is a marketing must to remain relevant to buying audiences.

Sunset Food Truck

The Sunset food truck strategically parked between the Hilton and the convention center was by far the best of the food that we tasted all weekend long.  Their version of a  Caprese Salad provided a much-needed flavor explosion and energy boost.

Trend Alert! Food Trucks

The Food Truck Trend has been cruising along for a while now, but this year’s Fresh Summit participants took TRANSPORTATION to the next level and added some extra horsepower to their marketing and promotions.  Four and more-wheeled appearances were made by:

Did somebody say, “Puff pastry?”  They did at the Moonlit Farms booth in Texas Town and we enjoyed every last bite of their Caramelized Onion Puff Pastry Rounds.  Multiple times.

We admit that a major Fresh Summit perk is the plethora of yummy recipes we scope out like bloodhounds every year.  For some reason, we don’t try as many new fruits and veggies in their natural states, and we have clearly been missing out.  New introductions for us this year were yellow melons at the Itaueira booth and dragonfruit at the Melissa’s booth.
Kiwi Berries Another natural sample that we adored was provided courtesy of HBF International. With the shape and sweetness of a grape and the texture of a kiwi, their kiwi berries were a treat for the tongue!

 A close third to delicious food and beautiful marketing are the fun booth activities we look forward to each year.  Not a fan of everything we come across, the Idaho Potato Truck Racing was definitely a hit.  Especially with Marci, who has mentioned that she came in first a couple several times. 

Every corner of the CMI booth introduced us to new, cool product branding unlike most we see on the showfloor.  From their Daisy Girl organic line to their Ambrosia apples and Sweet Juillet apricots, their packaging and promotional artwork caught our attention and held it.  We love great graphic design and CMI is hitting it out of the park!

As mentioned above, it’s refreshing to enjoy the natural side of fresh produce when sampling throughout the aisles at Fresh Summit.  And Jonny Almond’s sweetly simple cinnamon almonds were stalk-worthy.  Not to mention, their custom illustrations brought a whole lotta personality to their booth and their products.

Lots of exhibitors were “going nuts” in Anaheim.  Fresh Summit typically attracts quite a few nut companies, but this year it seemed even nuttier.  Blue Diamond Almonds made a splash by winning the First Time Exhibitor Booth Award and the Valued Naturals folks turned more than a few heads, including ours, with their slightly risqué messaging.  Which brings us to…

Another trend we spotted this year was the abundance of “shock value” booth promos and attention-grabbing messaging.  From the aforementioned Valued Naturals booth (“The Best Place to Grab Your Nuts”) to the signed autographs being offered by Playboy Playmates in another booth, some exhibitors showed off more than their products/services.  So, is this tactic over-the-top or right-on-the-money?  What do you think?

Congrats! You made it through our loooooong list of kudos.  But we’re not done yet!  Be sure to read The Core in the coming weeks for more of our post-Fresh Summit insights on education, innovation and social media, as well as a student’s perspective on our industry’s largest event. You won’t want to miss it. And to ensure that you don’t, subscribe to The Core (if you’re not already a subscriber) by simply entering your email address in the upper right corner. Now, back to that post-show follow up!

Posted by: The DMA Solutions Team


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2 Comments »

  1. Hi, Thanks for the great recap of this years Fresh Summt! Good Selling, Joe

    Comment by Joe Hynes — November 2, 2012 @ 7:07 am

  2. Great write up DMA Crew; thanks for highlighting how we are #InspiredByFlavor

    Comment by CV — November 2, 2012 @ 10:07 am

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