This past weekend, I had the privilege to attend Fresh Summit, as a part of Team Fresh Summit (which was a group of bloggers brought together by PMA – Produce Marketing Association and Kitchen Play). I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited to learn about the produce industry and possibly be introduced to new brands that I haven’t seen before.
The conference was Friday/Saturday/Sunday, but I only could attend on Sunday. I figured that 7 hours on the expo floor would be plenty. I could meet all of the brands that I wanted to say “hello” to, and have extra time to stop by booths that caught my eye.
Before I braved the expo, there was a general morning session. While it was geared more towards people in marketing careers, I think I could apply quite a few principles from the speech to my blog. I wasn’t expecting much from the general session, but wow, time flew! It was one of the better sessions I’ve sat in for a conference (professionally and blog-wise).
After a meeting with PMA and the other bloggers of Team Fresh Summit, it was time to hit the expo floor. Can I just say…HOLY COW! I thought I knew the convention center’s size, but man…from the inside, it’s a whole different animal! I mean, look at the picture above. That’s a 3D Mardi Gras Mask made of berries. BERRIES. Plenty of booths were this extravagant, and it was quite a site to see!
I learned a couple of lessons during the expo, in case I’m able to attend this again: first off, I’m never bringing my DSLR to a conference/expo again. My iPhone takes great pictures, and weighs barely anything. It was kind of silly on my part to lug around a 15 lb. camera bag when I only took a handful on the DSLR anyway. 😛 Also, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! I’m naturally shy, but after speaking to a couple of people, I found that it was easier to approach someone at a booth and introduce myself. I was doing fairly well until somewhere in the 2000s when I lost my prized list of brands that I wanted to meet with. ::sigh::
Needless to say, I didn’t meet every brand I wanted to meet with. I wasn’t bummed about it though…there were 1000 booths there, and the brands I did meet with were wonderful! I’m in shock that quite a few people actually took some time out of their busy day to talk to me…with 20,000 people walking around, that expo was booming! In fact, Fresh Summit can only be held in a handful of cities, because of the size that they require to make this event happen.
Another cool thing about the expo is that most of these booths had displays that were well-stocked like grocery stores. So much food…
…and I found out from someone that every single bit of food leftover from the event ends up at the local food bank. I read a tweet from the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau that said the food bank received 300,000 pounds of food from Fresh Summit. Isn’t that awesome??!
I’m a little bummed that I could only attend for one day, but at the same time, it was a wonderful experience! I’m so glad I was able to attend.
At the end of the day, I have to admit my shoulders were on fire haha! The booths were so generous, as you can see below. That shopping bag was full! Also, according to my pedometer, I walked 4 miles that day….my body was aching the next day. At least after all of that sampling, I had a great work-out! 😛
Thank you so much to PMA, as well as Kitchen Play, for my registration to Fresh Summit. I had a great time! If you ever have the chance to attend Fresh Summit (it’s going to be in Anaheim next year), definitely consider it. It’s so cool to learn about the produce industry, and to actually put a face to a brand that you buy in the grocery store.
Disclosure: I was provided with a free registration to PMA’s Fresh Summit. All opinions are 100% my own.