NEW ORLEANS — Participants packed an Oct. 18 general session brunch at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center marking the formal opening of Fresh Summit 2013, the global gathering of the fresh produce and floral industries.

“Get ready to say hello to the future,” said Fresh Summit committee chairman Jim Sarcletti, director of produce and floral for Supervalu Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn. “Thanks to all of you for joining us in New Orleans. You will have a fun time exploring Fresh Summit.”

The show marks the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association’s first trip to The Crescent City since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 devastated the area.

“To all of you whether you’re from Salinas or Shanghai, Sydney or Santiago, or any of the 60-plus countries represented in Fresh Summit, welcome home,” said Bryan Silbermann, PMA’s president and chief executive officer. “Here we are in 2013 back in New Orleans for the first time in 11 years.

Silbermann presented his ninth state of the industry speech.

“How fitting that seems because New Orleans is a wonderful city with a wealth of wonderful food,PMA opens New Orleans extravaganza music and history. It’s a blend of New World and Old World, a melting pot,” he said. “It’s almost like our produce and floral worlds, isn’t it? Doesn’t it seem fitting for us to be back in New Orleans celebrating innovation, reinvigoration and community? This city has been reborn from challenges on a scale few of us could weather.”

The show continues with an Oct. 18 opening reception, sessions and the Oct. 19-20 trade show.