Tim York, president of Markon Cooperative visits with Julie Krivanek, president of Krivanek Consulting, Denver, Colo. on July 27 at Produce Marketing Association's Foodservice Conference and Expo in Monterey. ( Tom Karst )

MONTEREY, Calif. — With a revamped schedule that moved the expo to Saturday from Sunday, the 2019 Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference and Expo found big crowds and success.

Cathy Burns, PMA CEO, said the expo change had a positive effect.

“The energy and spirit, enthusiasm, the partnerships — somebody said to me that this show is about hugs, not handshakes,” Burns said. “I think that pretty much sums up the feel of what’s happening at PMA at (Monterey Bay) this year.”

Attendance at the show was about 1,900, including about 600 buyers, according to a news release.

There were 201 companies exhibiting, including 30 first-time exhibitors. The ratio of buyers to exhibitors was 3 to 1, according to the release.

Even though the exhibitors were spread out in three halls, many said the energy of the show was strong throughout the afternoon of July 27.

Burns also was pleased with the networking and educational opportunities at the show, July 25-27.

Ted Allen, host of Food Network series “Chopped,” gave the keynote address July 26, talking about his view on the future of food in a talk called “Changing the Way Americans View and Taste Food.”

After a “strolling lunch” competition, the conference offered educational opportunities on technology and innovation, sustainability, recruiting new talent, produce safety and taste trends in foodservice.

The conference included a July 26 networking reception in Monterey at The Barns in Cooper Molera, followed by the Center for Growing Talent Women’s Fresh Perspectives reception. On July 27, National Geographic writer and author Dan Buettner spoke on “Blue Zones: Secrets of a Long Life” before the opening of the show floor.

“Both of the speakers were obviously well known, but also just great advocates of the work that we’re doing in order to ultimately bring the global produce and world community together to grow a healthier world,” Burns said. “We need the whole supply chain to be able to do that.”

Heather Hammack, president of Famous Software, Fresno, said the show was worthwhile.
“A lot of our customers do a lot of foodservice business and this is a great show for us, just because we’re always doing something for foodservice,” Hammack said.

Bob Haarhues, vice president of sales and marketing for Crunch Pak, Cashmere, Wash., showcased sliced and diced pears to foodservice buyers on the expo floor.
“We have some really good opportunities (here) to touch really good customers,” Haarhues said.

The 2020 PMA Foodservice Conference and Expo is scheduled for July 24-25 in Monterey.