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2016-11-14-19.11.48The second annual United Fresh BrandStorm took place Nov. 14-15 at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District. A project of the Produce Marketing & Merchandising Council, the event is created by produce marketers, for produce marketers. This year’s event attracted more than 180 attendees from all levels of career experience seeking to gain insights on brand marketing and advertising strategies. Beginning with a half day of general session engagement and case study kick-off, attendees gathered to conclude the day with a Welcome Reception on the bridge suspended over Kearny Street in the city’s Financial District.

Stephen Medina and Mary Wright-Rana of PRO*ACT with Linda Welter of The Caliber Group and BrandStorm speaker.

Tuesday started with a breakfast panel of retailers sharing how their stores are responding to consumers’ growing needs for produce brands and stories. The energy of the event continued with breakout sessions on topics such as influencers, brand development, menu trends and social media. Attendees gathered once again in groups of 10 to work on case study challenges that introduced new communication channels and collaboration hypotheticals. This exercise helped thread the theme of “lightbulb moments” together as attendees gathered one last time for the closing general session where they learned how to create brand names that stick.

BrandStorm attracted 110 companies all seeking to enhance their brand footprint. Attendee’s careers ranged from less than a year of produce industry experience to industry legends with more than four decades in produce. The mix of traditional marketing and social media savvy leveled the playing field for attendees where everyone had something to contribute to the dialogue.

1---DSC 0182Friends and colleagues of Al Murray, New Jersey's assistant secretary of agriculture, threw a surprise party earlier this month to commemorate Murray's upcoming retirement from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

Billed as the "Al Murray Farewell Tour," the event took place Friday afternoon, Nov. 4, at one of Murray favorite spots, The Irish Pub in Atlantic City, NJ.

About 70 people — including farmers, retailers, wholesalers and Murray's colleagues throughout the years — attended the party, according to Joe Atchison, the department's coordinator of agricultural development. Among those attending were Douglas H. Fisher, the state's secretary of agriculture, and Arthur R. Brown Jr., a former New Jersey secretary of agriculture and the man who hired Murray back in 1983.

Al Murray (center), flanked by Douglas H. Fisher, New Jersey's secretary of agriculture, and Arthur R. Brown Jr., a former New Jersey secretary of agriculture. Photos courtesy of Christine Fries, NJDA.

Jessie-Lance-MikeeTUBAC, AZ — The 48th Nogales Produce Convention & Golf Tournament convened at the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, here. The meeting, hosted by the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, opened with an educational session on Nov. 3. The Opening Fiesta & Networking Event was attended by nearly 500, who enjoyed music performed by the Nogales High School Mariachi band.  

Georgina Felix of the FPAA sets up a table of gifts for 5K participants at the 5K Run/Walk for Salad Bars in Schools in Tubac, AZ, on Nov. 5.

FPPA President Lance Jungmeyer led a 2016-17 season kickoff industry panel discussion highlighting the rapid growth of the Nogales produce industry’s top 10 volume items, including feedback from four distributors about those commodities. The panelists were Chris Ciruli of Ciruli Bros. Inc., Rod Sbragia of Tricar Sales Inc., Fried DeSchouwer of Greenhouse Produce Co. and Mikee Suarez of MAS Melons & Grapes Inc.

Jungmeyer indicated that Mexico’s 2015 total fruit and vegetable export value for the U.S. market was $9.2 billion. This exceeds the combined total of all other countries, which in 2015 had a total value of $8.2 billion.

Walter Ram, vice president of food safety for The Giumarra Cos. in Los Angeles, and Bobby Astengo, managing partner of Peppers Plus Inc. in Rio Rico, AZ, outlined coming changes in the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act and the Food Safety Verification Program for produce imports. Astengo recently was an industry representative in a highly detailed FDA food-safety regulatory educational session in Maryland.

DeDe Murcer Moffett was the keynote speaker, who encouraged attendees to never say no to an opportunity that may lead to success beyond one's comfort zone.

The Nov. 4 program included a Mexican cuisine program presented by local and Mexican chefs, as well as a two-day golf tournament and a 5K run.

DSC01964All 35 companies from the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx, NY, donated produce that was distributed to needy families from noon until 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Julio Carballo Little League Basketball Court. Volunteers, primarily from the Hunts Point Market, handed out 2,000 bags of produce, weighing over 25,000 pounds. Each gift bag contained baking potatoes, acorn squash, carrots, celery root, ginger, chayote squash, cranberries, McIntosh apples, rutabagas, tangerines and yams.

The holiday gift bags that were handed out to each family.

2016-PMA-FLORAL-MARKETER-The Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit & Expo Oct. 14-16 in Orlando, FL, drew 20,889 attendees from 65 countries, setting a new East Coast attendance record, according to a news release. The three-day event showcased new products, trends and technologies with more than 80 exhibiting floral companies —13 percent more than last year — in a sold-out Floral Pavilion.

“The show was bigger than last year, with some new flower farms and new brokers exhibiting,” Bill Prescott, marketing communications specialist at the Sun Valley Group in Arcata, CA, said. “As for the exhibition hall, we had great traffic and saw a lot of buyers in our booth. It was simply a very well-organized show.”

Michael Schrader, floral director for Schnuck Markets Inc. in St. Louis, received the 2016 PMA Floral Marketer of the Year award from Bonnie Armellini, owner of Gems Group Miami, the 2015 award winner.