After attending last year’s South by Southwest, this year the Produce Marketing Association will take the stage as a part of the educational programming. PMA’s chief marketing officer, Lauren M. Scott, will be a panelist in the session titled “Tap Primal Instincts to Fuel Your Food Movement,” alongside Adam Cooper of The Wonderful Company, Lisa Cork of Fresh Produce Marketing, and Stephen X. Springfield of Sentient Decision Science.
South by Southwest is an annual event that draws half a million people each year to Austin, TX for festivals and conference programming centered on all things culture, technology, and entertainment. There are 25 conference education tracks and experiential components like PMA’s Global Street Farm. The Global Street Farm invited SXSW attendees to sample fresh produce and be styled with floral crowns and flower braids. It will be back this year and will serve as a home-base for the produce and floral industry members in attendance at SXSW.
“The goal last year was to listen and learn,” said PMA CEO Cathy Burns. “We learned a lot, especially that there were conversations about food and agriculture without anyone from the industry at the table. This year, we’re looking to change that, and I couldn’t be more excited that our members will be there with us.”
Many who attended SXSW last year will be back as panelists including Lisa Cork of Fresh Produce Marketing. “It was so insightful to come last year and better understand what non-industry people think of our produce and floral world,” Cork said. “To continue to grow demand for produce and floral, we need to demonstrate our value to those outside of our industry. We have great products, but even more than that, we have a lot to say about topics like wellness, retail trends and global business. SXSW offers a perfect venue for us to establish ourselves as experts and leaders.”
Recently, Burns reached out to members to thank them for their support in voting for the panel to be a part of this year’s conference programming. All panels at SXSW are selected with a combination of community voting, and input from SXSW staff and their Advisory Board. This year, in addition to the PMA submitted panel, there are two other panels featuring prominent produce and floral industry voices that also made the cut. PMA’s Scott will participate in another panel with Brighter Bites’s Lisa Helfman and P.K. Newby of The Nutrition Doctor titled “Produce Matter: Why Eating More Plants is Key to Health.” As a part of the Blockchain & Cryptocurrency track, Andy Kennedy of FoodLogiQ will be a panelist for the session “Revolutionizing Food Safety with Blockchain Tech.”
Center for Growing Talent will also be on the ground at SXSW, bringing their yearly Executive Leadership Exchange (ELE) to Austin. ELE attendees will participate in two days of curated sessions with the final day spent as an immersion day at retailer H-E-B with structured activities and discussion.
“There is an entire education track focused on food alone,” said Burns, explaining why it’s important for the produce and floral industry to be at events like SXSW. “It highlights the growing importance of the intersection between food and culture. It’s essential that PMA and our industry is not only better represented in the conversations about our industry, but ultimately that we’re leading them – not only within our industry, but wherever important conversations about the world’s food supply are taking place.”