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What Blew Us Away at PMA Fresh Summit 2012
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 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….
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!
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:
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.
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!
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.
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!
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??
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
- The Idaho Potato Commission’s Big Idaho Potato fresh off her tour of the lower 48 states,
- The Johnny’s Be Good Tour Trailer serving up Klondike Potatoes for breakfast and a late afternoon snack,
- Allen Lund Company’s flaming semi-truck,
- California Avocado Commission’s booth guest stars – Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger and their Border Grill food truck,
- The Great American Food Truck Race winner The Lime Truck in the Melissa’s booth, and many, many others!
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.
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