Vancouver raises the bar for CPMA

VANCOUVER — With sunny skies, snow-capped peaks and moderate temperatures, Vancouver exceeded expectations as a host city for the Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention and trade show.

The event, April 24-26, itself did the same, said organizers and exhibitors.

With agriculture consultant Rob Saik calling to question the case against genetically modified foods and Rabobank analyst Roland Fumasi speaking about possible fallout if North American Free Trade Act negotiations fail, CPMA President Ron Lemaire said the speakers provided an “edgier” approach. Other speakers spoke about market opportunities by moving away from commodity-based promotions to branded promotions.

“I’m really happy with how the flow (of speakers) went and the information behind it,” Lemaire said.

Close to 300 exhibitors were at the event. Attendance numbers were not finalized, but Lemaire said he believed 3,500-4,000 people were at the show. The show rotates between Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. While CPMA conventions in Toronto and Montreal may draw several hundred more attendees, Lemaire said Vancouver showed growth over previous shows there.

“We will not grow for the sake of growth; the intent is to make sure we have a quality event with the right people and the right business connections,” he said.

Showing up

Exhibitors said the show delivered.

“It is my first time at CPMA and I really enjoyed it,” said Jason Varni, customer success manager and senior systems engineer for iTrade Network, Dublin, Calif. “It is just great to see the big representation of companies that are Canadian, which I don’t necessarily see at the Produce Marketing Association expo or (other) U.S. shows.”

Expo show traffic was good, exhibitors said.

“The show was very well attended, and all the major Canadian retailers were here,” said Rich Tiveron, salesman at Kingsville, Ontario-based Mastronardi Produce. “We had a good opportunity to go over new innovations and talk (about) the programs we have with Canadian national retailers and it is obviously important for us to have that face time.”
Tiveron said the perfect weather in the city was another plus.

“It’s been a very successful show and Vancouver is also a great city to have it in,” Tiveron said.

“(The trade show) has been steady, with a lot of wholesalers, some retailers and some foodservice,” said Nick Chappell, retail sales director at California Giant Berry Farms, Watsonville, Calif. “It has been a good mix.”

Murray Driediger, president and CEO of BC Fresh, was presented the 2018 Canadian Produce Person of the Year award by The Packer’s publisher Shannon Shuman at the closing banquet April 26.

Next year’s show is set for April 2-4 in Montreal.



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