The global produce industry faces an immense challenge—the need to increase food production with fewer resources while also bolstering consumer confidence in the safety of fresh produce. Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) members have identified emerging technology as a key to meeting that challenge, feeding the world through innovation. That’s why PMA has announced that it’s growing the science and technology value area of the association’s new strategic plan with three new offerings: two unique events and a series of year-round technology content.
“The bottom line—these new resources are being put to work to help members operate their businesses more effectively, helping drive profitability and global demand for fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Joe Pezzini, COO of Ocean Mist Farms and and chairman of the PMA Produce Safety, Science and Technology Committee.
The two events include:
• Tech Talks: This one-day event on March 26 held just outside of Tampa, Fla., will feature networking opportunities combined with quick, thought-provoking presentations that stretch participants’ thinking beyond their typical mindset. Education will feature existing and emerging technologies that address the produce industry’s most common “pain points” that help turn problems into advantages.
• Tech Knowledge: This two-day event, scheduled May 21-22 in San Diego, Calif., will provide an opportunity to learn about technologies that are on the two- to five-year horizon and capable of changing the industry. Additionally, entrepreneurs and solution providers will have the chance to connect with potential investors and other key decision makers.
The technology content series will address the following areas:
• Detection technologies: Improved testing technologies are emerging and taking on new roles, like testing allergens, product integrity and detecting new and emerging pathogens. PMA will help members discover the future impact of these technologies and realize the most effective applications for their businesses.
• Production input management: New technologies, or even existing technologies used in new ways, can help reduce input costs (like energy, water, fertilizer and labor), and deliver better results. Members will now have more access to information on cost-controlling advancements and learn how to put them to use in their businesses.
• Data science: Members collect data daily from a number of areas including consumption patterns, food safety audits, weather patterns, market analysis, environmental tests and more. PMA will help members identify novel uses for this information that can reduce costs, and offer predictions for future resources and sales like sourcing models—predicting what customers need, when they need it.
“These new services have been developed in response to feedback we’ve received directly from our members,” said Dr. Bob Whitaker, PMA chief science and technology officer. “The resources go beyond broad education or simply providing a technology marketplace. Instead, we’re aiming to connect members to detailed information, translate complex issues, and provide industry context to help them identify and apply forward-thinking technologies to their businesses.”