Bare-bones booths send PMA message

10/24/2013 07:45:00 PM
Tom Karst

Bil GoldfieldCoral BeachBil Goldfield, communications manager for Dole Fresh Fruit, Westlake Village, Calif., stands outside one of the two meeting rooms at the company's scaled-down booth during the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit 2013.NEW ORLEANS — With no exhibit from C.H. Robinson and smaller booths from Del Monte Fresh, Dole Food Co. and others, some of the biggest players in the produce industry used the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit expo to express displeasure about the failed merger of PMA and the United Fresh Produce Association.

Bil Goldfield, corporate communications director for Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole, said the company’s booth, consisting of a cube-shaped portable office with two private meeting rooms, allowed company officials to meet with four clients an hour throughout the expo.

The 20-foot by 20-foot area had no product displays, no celebrity chefs and no giveaways: a political statement about the failed merger, Goldfield said.

Even so, it was “business as usual,” he said, and Dole probably will take the same approach at Fresh Summit 2014.

Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte, said the decision to drop from 2,000 square feet of booth space to 400 square feet didn’t hinder business, and he praised the two-day show format.

But the failed merger is causing Del Monte and other companies to rethink trade show decisions, especially with the rise in regional trade show formats.

“Basically that is a reflection of our disappointment in the outcome of the merger talks,” Christou said. “We feel there is a lot of duplication and cannot continue to support a system where there is this duplication.”

Several factors influenced C.H. Robinson Worldwide’s decision to not have a booth at Fresh Summit, senior vice president Jim Lemke said.

“After the merger discussions failed, the decision was made to better balance our marketing funds across multiple shows, including regional events such as The Packer’s Midwest Produce Expo and global events such as Fruit Logistica,” he said.

Another reason is C.H. Robinson presents new items to customers throughout the year.

Calling PMA a well-run organization, Lemke pointed out that C.H. Robinson sponsored the PMA Foundation Women’s Fresh Perspectives Leadership Breakfast and Floral Networking Reception at Fresh Summit.

“A more balanced approach works better for C.H. Robinson as we felt that different groups such as PMA, United Fresh and the regional organizations all provide unique offerings to the industry,” he said.

Dole typically has a relatively small booth at the United Fresh show, Goldfield said, and that will continue.

The company probably will keep the smaller format for Fresh Summit 2014.

Del Monte also has a smaller United Fresh booth, but Christou said the company is undecided about plans for Fresh Summit 2014.

Staff Writer Coral Beach contributed to this article.



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