Live Healthy, Eat Fresh is the theme of the 2014 Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s annual conference, April 2-4.

CPMA president Ron Lemaire expects about 3,500 members of the produce industry from around the world to converge on Vancouver, Canada’s most health-conscious city.

He anticipates strong representation from North America, Peru, Europe and the Asia/Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand.

“You can’t go to any other event and engage and connect with as many players, key leaders and businesses as you can in the relaxed yet dynamic environment of a CPMA convention and trade show,” he said.

The event will be held in the Vancouver Convention Center’s West Building, built over water with views of mountains and sea.

It’s the world’s first convention center to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification, the highest level.

Toronto-born motivational speaker and author Spencer West will open the event.

“He’s an interesting guy who has defied all logic, for how does a man with no legs climb Mount Kilimanjaro?” Lemaire said.

“His message is don’t think anything’s impossible.”

If you haven’t bought a day pass to attend Thursday’s delegate luncheon, Lemaire recommends doing so to catch the launch of CPMA’s consumer marketing program, Half Your Plate, and watch the video and panel discussion on the Canadian retail scene.

In the past year, CPMA has videotaped top produce people at retailers across Canada answering the questions “what’s your fresh identity and why is it important?”

After the presentation, retail produce managers from Sobeys, Metro, Wal-Mart and Costco will expand on what makes their organization fresh.

Building on last year’s success, CPMA will also run a two-day retail produce manager’s program during the convention, Thursday for corporate stores and Friday for independents.

Be on the lookout for chefs on the trade show floor Thursday afternoon.

About 50 foodservice professionals have been invited to attend a three-hour education session on produce. After the session they will walk the show to meet exhibitors.

This year’s business sessions will also focus on eating fresh.

Adam Hart, author of Canadian bestseller “The Power of Food,” advocates adding more fruits, vegetables and other “power foods” to our diet.

Lemaire said Hart, who beat his own health struggles with healthy eating, will offer a good perspective on produce trends and what they mean to your product.

To help delegates grow their businesses, CPMA has invited Mark Wardell, founder and president of Wardell Professional Development and author of seven business books, to discuss how entrepreneurs can develop, plan and build growth in their organization.

Before founding his own company, Wardell was business adviser for a California-based consulting firm.

Friday’s first business session features a panel of three top British Columbia chefs discussing what’s hot, how to make produce the star of the plate and what the produce industry can do to help chefs in their day-to-day work.

The day’s second panel, moderated by Hugh Bowman, president of Canadian operations for the new Misionero Vegetables processing plant in Brantford, Ontario, will focus on the economics of produce — how currency fluctuations affect business and how the changing market affects imports and exports.

“If you’re trading only on the strength or weakness of a dollar, you’re in trouble,” Lemaire said.

Panelists include Mark Frey, senior vice president and chief market strategist for Cambridge Mercantile Group in Toronto.