Olympic flame lit to honor CPMA expo

VANCOUVER — The Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s annual convention trade show was on fire.

Just before the banquet the last night of the convention on April 4, attendees were treated to an uncommon sight: the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza, which is adjacent to the Vancouver Convention Center.

The cauldron has been lit only periodically since Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Most recently, it was lit several times during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia (including to celebrate the gold bobsled team of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, who was on the trade show floor as a spokeswoman for the Prince Edward Island Potato Board).

Other times the flame (actually four separate flames) has been lit include the 2011 Stanley Cup final, and Canada Day and Remembrance Day.

Sue Lewis, director of Market Development for CPMA, said the group had to apply to the City of Vancouver and the convention center.

“We proposed that the convention highlighted an industry that is critical to Canada’s economy, contributes significantly to employment in Canada, and one of the primary produce companies in the world, Oppenheimer, is located in Vancouver. We had (Oppy CEO) John Anderson’s full support for this request.

Trade show

On the show floor, exhibitors said they were busy, particularly on the first day, April 3.

On April 4, 60 fourth-graders from a Vancouver elementary school went up and down the aisles, stopping to sample fruits and vegetables. The visit was part of the Freggie Children’s Program, designed to spark consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Mucci Farms provided support for the program.

A common theme for new products on display was convenience, particularly in fresh-cut items and new packaging.

As for the hot item being showcased, kale continues to see interest in Canada similar to that in the U.S. Companies displaying new kale products included Apio Inc., Church Bros., Taylor Farms, Fresh Express and San Miguel Produce Inc.

“Last year I thought the market was saturated, but that wasn’t the case,” said Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development at Church Bros. “It just continues to grow.”