The stars are aligning to get more fresh produce on the plate.

That’s the message the Produce Marketing Association is building its annual Foodservice Conference and Exposition around. The conference, with a “Get Cooking!” theme, is scheduled for July 30-Aug. 1 in Monterey, Calif.

PMA Foodservice tackles doubling produce use

The event opens with PMA, the National Restaurant Association and the International Foodservice Distributors Association’s Foodservice 2020 initiative. Panelists will present an update on the initiative to double the use of produce in foodservice by 2020.

“This is the action plan,” said Julia Stewart, public relations director for PMA. “We’re using this as a starting point to figure out what the industry can do right now and what this might mean for produce suppliers and the whole supply chain.”

Rich Dachman, vice president of produce for Sysco Inc., heads up a new Foodservice 2020 steering committee, but Stewart said the association wasn’t releasing the entire list of names as of June 17.

The Packer will announce its 10th annual Foodservice Achievement Award during the weekend’s events.

Brenda Lloyd, director of equipment distribution and systems for Yum! Brands’ supply chain management organization Unified Foodservice Purchasing Cooperative LLC, is scheduled to talk about the business return on investment of the fast food operator’s traceability system during an education session on food safety and traceability.

The association is also looking to attack the locally grown movement from a supply chain success standpoint.

“We have research from UC-Davis on how to make the most of consumers’ interest in locally grown foods,” Stewart said. “A couple of researchers are going to come in from UC-Davis, and we’re going to talk about what supply chain model will work most effectively there.”

A squad of celebrity chefs will participate in a discussion on produce and cooking styles, and then host culinary demonstrations. Participants are Rick Bayless, chef and owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago; William Bloxsom-Carter, executive chef at Playboy Mansion West, Los Angeles, and Robert Danhi, founder of Chef Danhi & Co. and PMA’s consulting chef.

“How exciting is it that one of our chefs (Bayless) got invited to create the state dinner the White House had for the visit of Mexico’s president two weeks ago,” Stewart said.

Events start July 30 with the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent’s 5th annual golf tournament, which benefits the Nucci Scholarship for Culinary Innovation.

PMA FIT is also hosting a 5K run/walk and the Fresh Perspective Women’s Networking Event, in addition to planning an education session on business networking. All three are scheduled for July 31.

“The FIT 5K went so well at Fresh Summit we’re going to host one at foodservice, as well,” Stewart said.

The association also plans to use social media, to inform attendees of conference events, Stewart said, and it is using the Twitter account @PMAFSC on conference-related topics.

The show floor sold out with 150 exhibitors, but sponsorship opportunities remain for companies that want to be involved, Stewart said. The expo gives each exhibitor the same amount of space, and is open only five hours Aug. 1. The event usually brings in around 1,500 people.

Pre-registration is open until July 16, with attendees who register online by July 2 receiving a discount. Discounted housing opportunities are open until June 24. Registration information, as well as a detailed event schedule, is available at www.pma.com/foodservice.