As the produce industry leaves another Fresh Summit convention in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward.

A few thoughts about the Produce Marketing Association’s — and the industry’s — signature event and the produce trade’s road ahead:

  • Counting attendance as a vote of confidence in the value of the convention, Fresh Summit is looking pretty invincible, drawing the most exhibitors ever matched by the most buyers ever.

  • New or redesigned products were prevalent. Companies are coming out of the shell they retreated into two years ago when the economy got squirrelly.

  • The green trend seems at times to run at odds with the trend toward more packaged products, like in Europe. Are consumers embracing — or fueling — that contradiction?

  • Hearing companies relate their experiences with Produce Traceability Initiative pilots makes the initiative seem a lot more real and like progress is being made.

  • Attendees’ general mood about the business climate — like the overall economy — seemed notably less gloomy than in the past two years at the expo.

PMA also has released the scheduled venues for Fresh Summit through for 2011-15, settling on a trio of cities: Atlanta in 2011 and 2015, Anaheim in 2012 and 2014, and New Orleans in 2013.

Atlanta and Anaheim are old haunts for Fresh Summit, and New Orleans will surely draw a sizeable and festive crowd being back in the rotation.

The absence of a Florida city from the list, however, given the concentration of fruit and vegetable businesses in the Sunshine State and considering Orlando’s record for drawing attendees and exhibitors, is a shame.