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PMA’s Produce Solutions Conference
Has New Twist

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, January 11, 2007

Big changes are afoot at this year’s PMA’s Produce Solutions Conference, which was formerly known as the Retail Produce Solutions Conference. This conference is a lineal descendent of a joint conference done by the Produce Marketing Association, United Fresh, Food Marketing Institute and the old National-American Wholesale Grocers’ Association. Because of FMI and NAWGA, the conference was always directed toward retailers.

It has been a PMA event for years now, but this is the first time that they’ve included the foodservice supply chain in the conference.

Gene Harris of Denny’s works, of course, on the foodservice side of the business and is both on the planning task force — which is headed up by Co-Chairman Bill Brophy of Stop & Shop and Jim Spilka of Meijer — and enthused about the addition of the foodservice angle to the conference. As Gene wrote the Pundit:

One of the big changes to PMA’s Produce Solutions Conference is symbolized by the more inclusive name. This year there will be 3 Insight Forums sessions with Discussion Leaders made up of Retail & Foodservice teams. PMA has confirmed all 20 discussion leaders for the 3 Insight Forums (aka discussion sessions). Instead of having two retailers leading the discussion sessions as in years past, this year there will be retail AND a Foodservice representative.

It is an impressive group. Here are the pairs leading the sessions:

Anthony Barbieri, Acme & Mikel Weber, Golden Corral

Bill Brophy, Stop & Shop & Frank Swanson, US Foodservice

Dave Corsi, Wegmans & Maurice Totty Foodbuy

Don Harris, Wild Oats & Lisanne Bogle, MGM Mirage

Ed Popke, Save Mart & Chad Kyker, Steak n Shake

Hugh Topper, HEB & David Goldstein, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill

Jim Spilka, Meijer & Gene Harris, Denny’s

Mark Hilton, Harris Teeter &
Patricia DelBello, Johnson & Wales University

Mike Kemp, Save-a-Lot &
Tom Sasser, Harper’s Restaurant Group &

Peter Goulet, Pinnacle Sales & Marketing &
John Allstadt, Uncle Julio’s Restaurants

The overall industry approach leads to a focus on the consumer, and the conference is officially titled Consumer Trends ’07 A Produce Solutions Conference. The program focuses on Moms, Kids and the Affluent Consumer.

Attendees can also choose between a supermarket and a foodservice tour. There is a lot more, of course, and it is all in the charming city of Charlotte, North Carolina.

You can find a brochure here. A registration form here. And additional information here.

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