Fresh Connections conference – an event to remember

The annual two-day ‘Fresh Connections Conference’ hosted by the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) on 13 and 14 August this year was once again a winner.

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What I liked about this conference, which has unquestionably become the number one event on the local fresh produce sector calendar, was the global reach of the topics.

Apart from being invaluable to those making a living from exporting fresh produce, the conference was extremely useful to other role players, informing them of the many new developments in the pipeline. After all, most of these developments will affect the local fresh produce sector sooner or later. Examples might be retailers calling for more food safety measures, or new packaging ideas, or the latest improvements in storage and handling. No matter the topic, the South African fresh produce sector must take note.

Today’s shopper
One of the plenary sessions covered ‘The Evolving Global Marketplace’. With advances in technology and global food distribution, a growing middle-class and ever-smarter shoppers, new thinking is required to keep pace with the modern consumer. The role of the consumer continues to increase on many levels and those in the sector who ignore this do so at their peril.

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Another session, ‘Disruptive Technologies Destined to Reshape Fresh Produce’, looked at exciting new technologies to enhance safety, infuse health traits and enable new products. Other key subjects included ‘Establishing a Sustainable Food Safety Culture’, ‘Water and Energy Optimisation’ and ‘The ABCs of Successful Internships’.

The continent of the future
Africa, with its well-publicised economic growth, enjoyed its share of attention as the speakers highlighted the many new developments taking place here. Opportunities abound, but an intimate understanding of market forces is required. To complete the mix, there were sessions on South Africa’s informal sector, which plays a pivotal role in ensuring that fresh produce reaches millions of consumers every day.

For more information on the conference, click here: #Freshconnections