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CPMA: Power of Produce

"Just wait until CPMA comes back to Vancouver in 2018,” my friends and colleagues have told me for the entirety of my three-year stretch at AndNowUKnow and The Snack, “Now that’s a breathtaking city.” Between the rich, cultural flair, vibrant, coastal vibe, and jaw-droppingly beautiful landscape I have found while wistfully Googling the city, we definitely don’t need an excuse to visit Vancouver, but thankfully, those of us in produce have one. From April 24-26, 2018, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) will gather the produce industry in the city I’ve so eagerly awaited for the country’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable event.

And what a backdrop in front of which to build relationships. From farm gate to dinner plate, Vancouver will house all sides and angles of the Canadian produce industry. On the trade show floor alone, CPMA’s convention will host 500 exhibit spaces, along with buyers from major retail chains and foodservice distributors from Canada and abroad, including Walmart, Loblaw, Costco, Sobeys, Metro, and Longo’s, just to name a few. And, as we hear year after year, the intimate nature of the connections you make on and off the show floor can be invaluable. Exceedingly more casual than the formal dinners you may be accustomed to attending when you think “business trip,” CPMA touts social events that offer up a little something for everyone.

“The CPMA convention is always a success in Vancouver,” says Mike Furi, Quality Assurance Manager for produce at Federated Co-operatives Limited and an active Past Chair for CPMA’s Board of Directors. “This is the largest gathering of the Canadian produce Industry in the country. It brings all of the players that do business in Canada together for a great networking opportunity. If you want to do business with a Canadian Produce grower/shipper or retailer, this is the show to attend.”

Beyond networking, CPMA’s program always delivers on its business sessions, investing back in the knowledge of our industry once again by tackling the current issues. From vanguard innovations and consumer marketing and changing demographics and updates on trade agreements and food safety, there will be no wasted time getting down to what makes Canadian ag tick. And as the use of leading-edge technology becomes ever more pervasive, this year’s show will feature a unique focus on industry innovation and technology integration in agriculture.

“The CPMA show provides a forum to promote the Canadian produce industry within continental North America, including producers and growers through to all retailers,” Lorne Burnett, the Co-CEO and Co-Chairman of Burnac Produce tells me when I ask him to explain what his company values about the event. “The show serves as an ideal platform to network, explore fresh ideas, new offerings, and current trends in the face of both challenges and opportunities within our industry.”

This takes me to CPMA’s sold out Passion for Produce program. The program aims to go beyond some of the mentoring programs you may have seen in other industries—and seeks to cultivate not just those who excel in their fields—but those who may become our future leaders. Providing rising stars within the produce industry the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the supply chain, Passion for Produce provides hands-on mentorship and access to some of the events that make produce such a great industry to be a part of.

“Canada is an important market for us. Canadian consumers are big produce eaters and huge allies in our mission of feeding the world in a healthy way,” shares John Corsaro, CEO of The Giumarra Companies, as well as a Board Member for the association. “CPMA is the event of the year to meet with our Canadian partners and share new ideas on how to reach consumers, promote Half Your Plate, and foster young people in our industry through the Passion for Produce program. We look forward to seeing everyone in Vancouver.”

And all of this is not to mention the programs PMA’s Center for Growing Talent will bring in from across the border. PMA once again invites university students to participate in a uniquely involved educational program called Career Pathways. Through both initiatives, these groups of rising stars will get the chance to network with the broader industry while learning all about the ins and outs of the business side of things.

In addition to soaking up all those city sights and absorbing knowledge from your peers, be sure to check out Canadian rockstar of The Guess Who and Bachman–Turner Overdrive fame, Randy Bachman, who will be jamming out at the event’s Final Gala. A few more pro-tips: don’t miss the always-thrilling Half Your Plate hockey game, absorb insights from the dietitian’s sessions, take a look around the city with the yearly retail tour, and definitely get your Freggie Fun Run on.

“The annual CPMA convention unites global representation of the produce industry from all areas of the business. It’s such a vital networking hub in Canada, and the show is the ideal size to be able to have quality time with growers and shippers,” Mimmo Franzone, Longo’s Director of Produce and Floral shares. “The association is the voice of produce in Canada and supports all members with any concerns that may arise. Being a member has great benefits. The webinars and online training are a hit when we are bringing on new team members.”

But, best of all, CPMA knows you want to be home in time for a weekend with the fam. The association will continue its format of a Tuesday to Thursday convention. If you are like me, maybe you’ll chill out and stay a few extra days to take in the lush forests and city streets of Vancouver!

As this issue hits your mailboxes, it will be just in time to take advantage of CPMA’s early bird rate. But don’t be slow! Registering before February 28th will save you up to $200. And, to me, that just spells out more cash to make your Vancouver experience one for the record books.