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PMA Bringing ‘The Joy of Fresh’ to Austin’s SXSW

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The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) will return to South By Southwest (SXSW) again this year as a part of the organization’s ongoing work to bring the produce and floral industries to center stage. 

SXSW attracts half a million attendees each year to Austin, Texas, for 10 days of collaboration. From March 13-22, SXSW will feature speakers, exhibitions, showcases, screenings, start-up competitions, networking events, awards and more, all to help define and prepare for what is to come in the world of technology, food and culture.

PMA has been attending for three years and growing its presence from attendees, to education session presenters, to activators—engaging thought leaders and consumers alike around The Joy of Fresh. Whether it is in discovering healthy produce or enjoying floral arrangements, all attendees are invited to celebrate the tastes, smells and colors of fresh produce and floral and their impact on our culture. The PMA programming will connect with members, media and consumers in three venues March 16-18: the PMA Global Street Farm, networking events and SXSW Education Sessions. 


Leading and learning

SXSW’s education programming is a collection of 22 tracks that vary from government and politics to design. To help industry members maximize their time, PMA goes through the hundreds of education sessions and curates a list of educational offerings relevant to produce and floral.

SXSW education invites the brightest minds across multiple disciplines to share discoveries, predictions and insights, offering an opportunity for development for attendees and for speakers to engage with audiences they may not otherwise meet. This opportunity to lead conversations about food is one of the main priorities for PMA’s presence at SXSW. 

As conversations around plant-based diets, food as a component of wellness and the need to feed a growing world become more mainstream, it’s imperative that produce and floral leaders are lending their voices to educate and inspire consumers, PMA says.

This year, PMA will provide four sessions as a part of the Focus15 format, which is returning for a second year. These are a group of four presentations in a one-hour time block that are linked by a common topic, trend or theme. 

PMA’s sessions will include:

  • Making a Difference: Tech to Feed the Future—March 17, 12:30-12:45 p.m. Vonnie Estes, PMA VP of technology, will discuss how agricultural technologies offer a pathway to a more sustainable future where farmers can improve yields to feed a growing world and drive down waste.
  • Making Farming Fun Again—March 17, 12:45-1 p.m.

Gary Wishnatzki, president and CEO of Wish Farms and co-founder of Harvest CROO Robotics, will speak about how robotics will answer the call to address labor challenges to harvest fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Elevating Our Food System with Vertical Farming—March 17, 1-1:15 p.m. Mark Oshima, co-founder and chief marketing officer at AeroFarms, will speak about the growing innovations, like vertical farming, that will allow for great nutrition, flavor and minimal water usage.
  • Nature Tech Meets Body Tech—March 17, 1:15-1:30 p.m. Dr. William Li, a pioneering physician and scientist focused on food, will share his knowledge about the unique health benefits of eating fruits, vegetables and edible flowers. His research is helping to re-write the book on food and health and driving the conversation on food as medicine.

SXSW registration is required to attend education sessions. 


Industry networking

In addition to sharing insights on center stage, PMA has extended the invitation to industry members to meet in Austin. In addition to a PMA Community Happy Hour on March 16, PMA also will host the Tech & the Food System Networking Dinner on March 17.

The dinner is a networking opportunity and also will feature a discussion between PMA’s Estes and Li, world-renowned physician, scientist and author of “Eat to Beat Disease.” Both Estes and Li will continue the conversation from their education sessions and speak more about how fresh foods and produce are increasingly linked to human health. 


Connecting with consumers

PMA will host a series of events at The Drafting Room, located on Rainey Street. For the third year, PMA’s Global Street Farm will be a place to share how produce and floral create a healthier world for all consumers, it will be a place to taste samples of fresh and prepared produce-centric treats, and a place to dress up with floral hair and beard braiding along with DIY floral arranging. Each year, the PMA Global Street Farm is a hit on social media, where countless influencers share the color and culture of fresh produce and floral to their audiences.

PMA is a 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.

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