Jul 27, 2020Foodservice: Delivered virtual conference a success, PMA says
The first ever Foodservice: Delivered virtual conference came to a close on July 24. The event was held virtually, inviting guests to engage within an online platform while they explored educational content, lively networking events, and interactive cooking events.
While the schedule stretched across the entire week of July 20-24, the content included a combination of on-demand and live content to welcome guests from all over the world to talk about the future of produce in foodservice.
“When it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to come together in person in Monterey this year, we set out to design a program that would serve the content, connections and opportunities that the foodservice industry needed the most,” said Produce Marketing Association (PMA) CEO, Cathy Burns. “I am so proud of the speakers who shared their expertise and experiences. We featured over almost 60 speakers including chefs, members of the media, industry experts, food critics, and even an 11-year old who helped teach our guests to cook a delicious produce-centric dish.”
With almost 3,000 guests, the event had a broader reach than any previous in-person Foodservice audience. The virtual event went global this year with 22% of registered guests tuning in from outside of the U.S. Of 42 countries represented, those with the most registrations included Mexico, Canada, Australia, Chile, South Africa, and Colombia.
With one in four registrants coming from a buyer company, there was ample opportunity for networking and business meetings like Sourcing Meetings. These meetings provided buyers and suppliers with personalized matches and over the course of two days, 170 Sourcing Meetingswere held, offering meaningful and targeted conversations with the goal of developing new partnerships.
In addition to the Sourcing Meetings, 25 companies showcased solutions as a part of the Solutions Sampling program which asked companies to pitchproducts, services and innovations to help solve the most important problems identified by buyers in the recent weeks. Guests visited the Solutions Sampling program more than 2,600 times over the course of 5 days.
The Foodservice: Delivered platform provided live and on-demand programming all week featuring corporate chefs discussing how their companies are moving forward, Jack Li of Datassential sharing the latest PMA commissioned research on the post COVID-19 consumer, a panel of supply chain executives from Chipotle Mexican Grill, Cheesecake Factory Incorporated and more. The schedule was designed to allow people from around the globe to attend live sessions including the Global Chef’s Menu with PMA Australia New Zealand’s Darren Keating moderating a discussion on global trends with leaders from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Over the course of 5 days, guests viewed live sessions 14,300 times. And some even made delicious produce focused recipes alongside well-known Chefs like industry-favorite Chef Todd Fisher of Duda Farm Fresh Foods.
Like in Monterey each year, the event goes beyond the education and lively discussions. This year’s event featured Food Safety Office Hours with Chief Science Officer Dr. Max Teplitski, a LinkedIn Live discussion with Produce for Better Health, and a scavenger hunt provided by Center for Growing Talent. The hunt included daily opportunities to engage within the platform, compete with fellow guests and win fantastic prizes. Participants completed more than 2,000 tasks including video and photo submissions, trivia and more. Of all participants, 75% remained active, pursuing a spot on the leaderboard throughout the week.
While the entire industry becomes familiar with the new ways of doing business, connections are still the number one reason for almost any guest. Within the platform, there were real time chat and e-business card exchanges capabilities, helping to connect guests and streamline introductions that could lead to new solutions and business partners.
“People were hungry for new ideas and connections and it feels as though Foodservice: Delivered came at exactly the right time for the industry,” said Lauren M. Scott, PMA’s chief marketing officer. “While every day looks different across the U.S. and across the world, we are at a perfect place to take our next steps towards creating and even better next normal than the one we had before. In this moment, consumers are craving healthy, nutritious products and we are the Joy of Fresh. I’m thrilled that Foodservice: Delivered event has provided the opportunity for the industry to share their ideas and successes to help revitalize foodservice and reignite engagement with consumers around produce.”
The platform will remain live through the end of August, providing access to all registered guests to recorded content, notes and access to Solutions Sampling to connect with suppliers. Anyone looking to commemorate the event can purchase a special event t-shirt at Shop PMA, all proceeds go to the International Restaurant Coalition.