While missing the California Central Coast vistas and in-person networking typically found in Monterey, Calif., the 2020 Produce Marketing Association Foodservice: Delivered conference brought attendees from more than 40 different countries together for virtual networking and education sessions.
PMA officials said that one in four attendees were buyers, and the event included almost 60 speakers and 55 sponsors who helped make the event possible.
“This week’s PMA Foodservice: Delivered virtual forum brought together culinary experts, buyers, suppliers and media from around the globe to explore the issues facing the foodservice restaurant sector, as well as an equally important opportunity to reconnect,” said Cathy Burns, CEO of PMA. “I am incredibly grateful to all of our program participants, sponsors, and our foodservice committee for their leadership and support in this successful new venture.
“Though Foodservice: Delivered was in lieu of our traditional in-person event, I found it to be as ‘good for the soul’ to see industry friends and our member community together again.”
With the nation and the foodservice industry still on the path toward reopening as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, PMA chief marketing officer Lauren Scott said that there is a hunger shared by all Americans to eat out again.
“Regardless of how good their home cooking is, foodservice is an important part of our cultural experience,” Scott said. “It’s where we come together and connect with friends and family and now more than ever, it’s also a path to health.”
Scott said the industry has the responsibility to “seize the moment."
“Our products are tasty, fresh, and they are essential to a healthy life,” she said. “I am inspired by the work that has been done so far and I am energized by what is possible.”
William Li, physician, scientist and author of The New York Times Bestseller “Eat to Beat Disease,” spoke July 23 at the event and said produce marketers have an important story to tell about how fruits and vegetables can build immunity.
“Even before (COVID-19) I think society started to wake up to this idea that food as medicine was an opportunity to actually prevent some of these chronic illnesses.”