This past weekend, I was given the opportunity to attend the 67th annual PMA Fresh Summit tradeshow in New Orleans, Louisiana with the NatureFresh™Farms team. This was my first experience at a global tradeshow, and it definitely did not disappoint.
Back in June, I attended the United Fresh tradeshow in Chicago, Illinois, and it was my first ever tradeshow experience. I remember walking in and being completely floored by the number of exhibitors, the bright colors, and the amazing smells. I thought the United Fresh Show was the largest event I would ever attend, but when I arrived in New Orleans at the PMA Fresh Summit Show, I was left even more in awe. Seeing rows upon rows of booths of every size, and meeting people from all over the world, made me realize that PMA is on a whole different level when it comes to tradeshows. Everyone within the produce and floral industries attends PMA, showcasing their best products and services for competitors and potential clients to see. The diversity that was present at the show provided me with an opportunity to network with people from countries like Argentina and Brazil, visit booths showcasing foods and drinks I had never even heard of before, and try exciting activities like virtual reality and carnival games – and not to mention tasting all of the delicious free samples!
Speaking of samples, if you were an attendee at PMA, you may have seen Chrissy K. and I sampling at the NatureFresh™ Farms sampling booth, located in Hall B at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. We had a blast sampling our TOMZ® Snacking Tomatoes and striking up conversations about greenhouse growing at NatureFresh™. You may have tried a TOMZ® Red Cherry or Yellow Grape tomato by itself, or been lucky enough to sample one of our unbelievably tasty TOMZ® Tomato Crostini snacks. With all of our samples, we focused on the flavor of TOMZ® tomatoes, and not on how we could incorporate them into elaborate dishes. The simple focus on flavor was undoubtedly something that made us stand out from other sampling booths at PMA, and the positive feedback that we received about our snacking tomatoes was outstanding! There were non-tomato eaters who tried TOMZ® and were beyond impressed, tomato lovers who proclaimed TOMZ® as the best tomatoes at the tradeshow, and samplers who came back multiple times for more tomatoes every single day that we were there! We need to give a huge shout out to our Grow-To People team at NatureFresh™ – we could not be more proud of them for producing such consistently flavorful, high-quality products that all people enjoy.
Although we were in New Orleans to attend the tradeshow, we were still able to take some time and experience the amazing culture and history of the city. I had an umbelievably tasty Po Boy sandwich and slice of sweet potato pie at Mother’s Restaurant, Gator Bites at the historic Howlin’ Wolf Music Club & Den, and authentic creole cooking at the Lula Restaurant Distillery. Jackson Square was an absolutely beautiful sight to see, especially when it was lit up in the evening with horse-drawn carriages parked in front. We were also lucky enough to happen upon a parade marching right in front of our hotel in celebration of Voodoo Fest! Apparently Mardi Gras never ends in New Orleans – I left for home with more than twenty bead necklaces from the celebrations! The culture in this city was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and without PMA being hosted there, I may have never gotten to experience the culture and history of New Orleans.
All in all, my first time attending a PMA Fresh Summit tradeshow was unforgettable. The value of getting to see the industry laid out right in front of you cannot be understated, and the amount of knowledge that I gained from walking the floor and talking with various exhibitors could not have been found anywhere else. If I could describe my experience at PMA in one word, it would be: impactful.