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Canada’s largest fresh produce event taking place in April

‘Educate, Innovate, Create’ is the theme of this year’s Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) convention and trade show.

CPMA’s new initiatives optimise the show’s utility for busy participants and focus on the keys to increasing fruit and vegetable sales

‘Educate, Innovate, Create’ is the theme of this year’s Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) convention and trade show.

The largest fresh produce event in Canada, it will take place in Quebec from April 15–17 at Montreal’s Palais des Congress. The show is expected to attract more than 3,000 participants.

CPMA president Ron Lemaire said the event brings together members not only of the Canadian but also the whole North American and global supply chains. “It’s one of best events because it’s not as massive as Fruit Logistica or the PMA yet all the key stakeholders are still there.”

The ‘Educate, Innovate, Create’ theme reflects the three keys to increasing fresh produce consumption, Lemaire said.

President Ron Lemaire.jpg

CPMA president Ron Lemaire

Innovation showcase for new products

Price is naturally important to Canadian consumers but they are also looking for quality and taste, where innovation plays a big role.

The event’s trade show and new product showcase is a “must see,” covering diverse new retail ideas from around the world ranging from packaging – including new types enabling longer shelf life – to marketing – such as ready–to–eat programs, he said.

Speed learning in comfy lounge areas

New this year are ‘learning lounges’. Lemaire said these offer busy attendees a concentrated burst of knowledge as an alternative to longer sessions or workshops. The idea emerged from feedback that more and more people want opportunities to acquire useful information fast – something they can “consume when back in the office.” After all, they are at the event to build business and need to get back out among the diverse stakeholders present and more than 250 companies showcasing products, he said.

Spread around the venue, the  lounges will be relaxed settings where small groups of 25–30 people will gather for 15 minute informal discussions with experts. There will be repeats of the sessions topics, which will cover issues from marketing to retail, such as emerging trends and technology, how to use Canada’s new ‘Half Your Plate’ campaign to drive fruit and veggie consumption, and where the North American regulatory framework is headed.

Retail program

The event also includes a retail program which retail produce managers can attend for free to expand their product knowledge. Topics such as banana production, merchandising leafy greens, and in-store positioning of hothouse produce will be among those covered. “They then walk the trade show floor to see some of the new packaging and products and, in an ideal world, return to their stores to share their increased knowledge so their store can provide expert advice to consumers.”

The latter is increasingly important because product knowledge helps drive sales but is a challenge given Canada’s wide product diversity and a transient and often part–time workforce.

Some of Canada’s top retailers will be featured in the event’s opening session, and a lunch-time panel on the Thursday will bring together retail leaders from the US “to discuss what’s new and exciting and how the entire supply chain must work together to grow the market.”

During the Friday brunch, the CPMA will recognise leaders in the industry during its annual awards ceremony, Lemaire said.

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