The second-annual Midwest Produce Conference and Expo showed at least two things about the produce industry: it’s not afraid to meet the modern consumer with new products and communication tools; and some old communication tools still work awfully well.

When buyers and sellers trade a highly perishable product, they need to know with whom they’re doing business, which is why so many face-to-face industry meetings find success.

As two educational sessions showed, technology is changing consumers, so the produce and retail industries will also have to change to remain viable.

The first session dealt with marketing to consumers online, especially through social media, and embracing social business intelligence. The second told of the rising influence of online retailing

Attendees learned that traditional retailers can fight online competitors by having stronger websites and better social media outreach. One speaker said the main reason consumers use online retailers to buy groceries is because they can’t find what they’re looking for in the stores they shop.

As for the Aug. 19-21 expo, most attendees said it improved on the inaugural year and delivered what it promised: a small, focused event that centered on the Midwest.

The key to improving on Year 1 was increasing the buyers attending, which the event did, more than doubling the number.

Produce associations will continue to hold the larger, national events, but they are run by their members, and these members increasingly find value in regional events.

The Packer is honored take its spot on the calendar.

Did you attend The Packer's Midwest Produce Expo? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.