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Foodservice buyers find inspiration, value at IFPA Foodservice Conference

Hundreds of top foodservice buyers attend The Foodservice Conference to get the latest on menu ideas, services and produce trends from the experts, including produce and service suppliers. Every type of outlet and distributor will be represented July 27-28 in Monterey, CA.   

The International Fresh Produce Association Foodservice Conference brings together the produce and foodservice industries to advance the use of fresh fruits and vegetables in the culinary arts.  

“The Foodservice Conference is a can’t-miss for me because I learn about the latest trends, meet my existing suppliers as well as new ones, and sample some of the most innovative recipes at the expo,” said Robin Fisher of P.F. Changs. “Our patrons count on us for delicious items, including plant-forward dishes. We count on this conference to keep us on the cutting edge so we can differentiate our menu offerings.”  

The conference connects suppliers with chefs, operators, distributors and a strong contingent of K-12 school foodservice professionals who are shaping students’ preferences and tastes for fresh produce that will make them avid consumers for life. This event boasts an unequaled one-to-one buyer-supplier ratio.  

“We’re often the largest ‘restaurant’ in town,” said Sandra Kemp, director of food and nutrition services at the Albuquerque Public Schools in New Mexico. “It’s important to connect in person with our suppliers and to take advantage of the location to tour produce fields and see growing and processing operations first-hand. We have a responsibility to our students and the communities we serve, and offering fresh fruits and veggies is a very important part of what we do.”  

To keep operators, distributors and suppliers up to date, the conference offers a diverse education program, including sessions on opportunities and challenges chefs see in today’s climate of inflation, supply and labor challenges, and the rise of plant-based and plant-forward menus; school and produce leaders working to increase students’ comfort level, interest, and consumption of fresh produce at school and beyond; the latest on sustainability market trends; and the foodservice industry's efforts to advance inclusive procurement and supplier diversity to meet consumers' increasingly values-based buying behaviors.  

“When we come to this conference, we accomplish a lot in just a couple of days,” said Tom Brugato, president of Pacific Coast Fruit Co., a produce foodservice distributor based in Portland, OR.  “Whether it’s inspiring speakers, networking with suppliers and peers, or experiencing the taste-a-thon that is the expo, I always find take-home value that strengthens my passion for my work.”

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