MONTEREY, Calif. — Produce and foodservice industry leaders want to double the amount of fresh produce available in restaurants over the next decade.
The plan was unveiled July 25 during Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association’s 2009 Foodservice Conference & Exposition in Monterey, Calif.

Produce and foodservice leaders set goal to double produce use in 10 years
                                                            Dawn Withers

The first Fresh Perspective: Women's Networking Event at the Produce Marketing Association’s 2009 Foodservice Conference & Exposition in Monterey on July 25 gave conference attendees the chance to network and donate clothing to charity during the dinner in the Monterey Maritime and History Museum.

PMA president and chief executive officer Bryan Silbermann and National Restaurant Association president and chief executive officer Dawn Sweeney presented the goal during the conference’s opening session. Silbermann outlined five priority areas for doubling produce use:

• Give produce a stronger presence on restaurant menus;

•Increase consumer confidence in fresh produce;

•Demonstrate social responsibility, balancing the needs of people, the planet and profitability;

•Grow collaboration among the industry sectors, including operators, distributors and grower-shippers; and

•Foster closer collaboration with government and other stakeholders.

According to a news release, the plan was finalized during a July 24 invitation-only “Executive Think Tank” discussion of senior foodservice and produce industry leaders, led by Sweeney and Silbermann, and International Foodservice Distributor Association president and chief executive officer Mark Allen.

“It will now be up to the three associations together to develop a plan for working these five priority areas to help increase use of fresh produce in foodservice, for healthier menus, healthier consumers and ultimately healthier industry,” Silbermann said in the release.

Silbermann and Sweeney also unveiled new foodservice industry research showing operators’ strong interest in expanding their produce options, product sourcing and food safety.