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PMA’s Burns: Trends, Technology Shape Industry Future

October 20, 2017

“How are you using technology to meet consumers where they are? And whether high-tech or high-touch, how are you taking steps to ensure your customers have exceptional experiences with your business? Does your people strategy provide talent with exceptional experiences to grow and make a positive impact on our industry?”

These challenges came from Cathy Burns, Produce Marketing Association CEO, at the State of the Industry address Oct. 19 during PMA’s Fresh Summit in New Orleans. The annual look into the future offered insights into trends and technologies that will shape the produce and floral industries. Burns identified technology, consumer and talent trends that will shape the industry in years to come. She stressed that working together is key to future success.

“I believe our greatest strength is turning the global produce and floral supply chains into an interconnected community of people and ideas,” she said. “Because when you think about it, ideas and insights are as much a part of the value of connections as people.”

Looking at societal trends, Burns said: “Fruits, vegetables and floral connect us to each other and consumers in ways that other products cannot.” She asked the audience to think about how they look at culture and how their products fit in.

“Are you taking your cues exclusively from within the produce and floral industries or are you looking for inspiration from other industries? Are you going wherever the trends take you, or are you following the trends that bring your brand or organizational mission to life?”

She called on the group to embrace inspired marketing that goes beyond advertising and sales. She said it should include analysis, research, consumer understanding, business strategy, cultural exploration, benchmarking, innovation and creativity.

“We have an opportunity in front of us,” she said. “Our products are white hot in culture now. But being a great product is not enough. We need to have a meaningful role in consumers’ lives. We – and by we, I mean PMA in collaboration with you, the members and industry – must have a powerful resonating voice in conversations where trends and culture are being set.

“If we are supposed to be half the plate, we should be half the conversation. Ultimately our opportunity as an industry is to leverage our health halo while we reframe, repackage and reposition produce to meet consumer needs in more demand spaces and meal occasions.”

Ultimately, that is our challenge as an industry, Burns said. “To make emotional, meaningful, inspiring connections with consumers that create preference and demand for fruits, vegetables and floral across cultures and conversations.”

About Produce Marketing Association
Produce Marketing Association (PMA) is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing connections that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit

Image Source: PMA


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