From April 5 – 7, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) organized its 96th convention and trade show. This year, the event took place in Montreal, Quebec. For the longest time it was unsure if the industry would be able to get together in person in Canada. “This past December, we weren’t sure of an in-person show,” said Guy Milette with Courchesne Larose and outgoing CPMA Chair. Last month, everything finally fell into place as many restrictions were lifted. “The produce industry is so much a people business, we really needed to get together face-to-face,” Milette added. “The biggest difference compared to previous years is the enthusiasm of the people. Everyone is happy to be here.”
Ron Lemaire, President of the CPMA, was ecstatic about the success of the event. “We are so happy the industry re-united after two years and to top it off, attendee numbers showed a record attendance,” he said. George Pitsikoulis with Canadawide and a member of CPMA’s Executive Committee added how fortunate the organization felt. “Apart from being asked to wear a mask, there were essentially no restrictions in place. It was a good turnout, given the fact that restrictions across Canada had only recently been lifted.”
A total of 273 companies exhibited, mainly located in Canada and the United States. The number of exhibitors outside North America was limited this year, but some of the countries present included Mexico, Belgium, and France.
New product trends
One of the major trends observed at the trade show floor seemed greenhouse growers venturing into strawberries. In addition, many companies are focusing on packaging development. Paper packaging that is recyclable and, in some cases, home compostable, is a key trend in the industry. JASA Packaging is working on the launch of a new pop-up paper packaging solution while Mucci Farms introduced a Linerless Label series of trays made from paperboard and fastened by a linerless label lid made from food approved paper label material. Sambrailo won the packaging award in the Product Showcase with its ReadyCycle® sustainable packaging. The company developed a packaging solution that is 100% recyclable and home compostable.
As families stayed home during the pandemic, the demand for snack-size fruit and vegetable options has further increased, and so has the demand for convenience. Sunset/Mastronardi launched snacking tomatoes and snacking cucumbers with a dip. Maglio Produce launched individually wrapped mango pieces that are ready to eat, called Mango Cheeks. Bard Valley Date Growers recently launched Mini Medjools, dates in snack size.
In addition to a trade show, breakfast and lunch meetings were held as well as educational sessions and different receptions. Exhibitors and attendees applauded the CPMA for organizing such a classy event. The welcome reception held at the St - James Theatre, a former bank in the heart of Old Montreal, was a venue everyone raved about.