ANAHEIM, Calif., — The Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit saw record attendance with 19,010 people from 58 countries descending on the Anaheim Convention Center for the nation's largest produce trade show.
The previous all-time record Fresh Summit attendance of 18,670 was set in San Diego in 2006.
The four-day event running Oct. 2-5 also had more than 800 exhibitors spread throughout more than 2,500 booths. The next Fresh Summit will return to Orlando, Fla., next year, and PMA said 87% of the 2010 expo's booth space had been booked by Oct. 5.
Frieda Caplan, founder and chairwoman of Frieda's Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif., said she's been coming to the show since the organization was known as the Produce Packaging Association. "We displayed our packages on card tables," she said.
Fresh Summit featured a list of prominent speakers including U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who spoke during the 3rd annual Fresh Perspective: Women's Leadership Event on Oct. 2, and David Plouffe, President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign manager, who addressed hundreds of Fresh Summit attendees during the breakfast general session Oct. 4.
PMA president Brian Silbermann also gave his annual state-of-the-industry address Oct. 3, during which he discussed emerging consumer and industry trends and gave his recommendation for how the industry needs to think and act differently for the new century.
Fresh Summit "brings the entire industry together where they're doing business in one place rather than making multiple trips to see their customers and suppliers all over the country. They can see everybody in one stop, and that makes it a sustainable event," said Kathy Means, PMA's vice president of government relations and public affairs.
The PMA board also announced new board members with outgoing chairman, Dave Corsi, vice president of produce and floral operations for Wegmans Food Markets Inc., Rochester, N.Y., welcoming incoming chairman, William Schuler, president and chief executive officer of Newport, Ky.-based Castellini Co., before Silbermann's address. Joe Pezzini, chief operating officer for Ocean Mist Farms, was elected to the Produce Marketing Association board of directors.
"This is going to be another year of transition," Schuler told the audience.
PMA's governing structure will continue to change, Schuler said, to allow for more volunteer leadership opportunities among member companies and also to help the organization become more agile, local and responsive to the need of its growing global membership.
PMA also announced the formation of PMA Australia-New Zealand, which officially started operations on Oct. 1, as the organization's first international affiliate.
Michael Simonetta, of Perfection Fresh Australia, Homebush, who has served as the PMA Australia-New Zealand Country Council's chairman, has been tapped as the new group's chairman.
PMA also recognized the best exhibitions of the expo and best packaging designs during Fresh Summit.
PMA's 2008 Fresh Summit drew an East Coast record 17,502 attendees from 61 countries to Orlando including 3,842 identified buyers, according to the organization.
Mike Reed, director of sales for the western region for Monterey Mushrooms, Royal Oaks, said the company received a lot of interest from buyers during the expo and got lot traffic through its booth.
"We've had a very good show," Reed said.