PMA TO END MULTIPLE-MEMBER EXHIBIT AT FMI

NEWARK, Del. -- The Produce Marketing Association won't be anchoring the Produce Pavilion with a multiple-member exhibit at next year's Food Marketing Institute convention."We will exhibit, but we will not have the member showcase," said Kathy Means, vice president of membership and public affairs, referring to the PMA umbrella under which some of its members have exhibited for more than five years

NEWARK, Del. -- The Produce Marketing Association won't be anchoring the Produce Pavilion with a multiple-member exhibit at next year's Food Marketing Institute convention.

"We will exhibit, but we will not have the member showcase," said Kathy Means, vice president of membership and public affairs, referring to the PMA umbrella under which some of its members have exhibited for more than five years at FMI, the supermarket industry's biggest trade show.

The PMA booth at next year's show will be dedicated to PMA's products and services, Means said. At the FMI show earlier this month, eight member companies exhibited under the PMA umbrella.

"It was getting expensive," acknowledged Means. "It also benefited only a small number of members," she said of the showcase format.

Peter O'Neil, director of retail programs for PMA, stressed that money was not the key reason for PMA's decision, however.

"Money plays a role, but the show does provide good bang for the buck," he said. "PMA feels we've provided a service for our members. Many exhibitors have leapfrogged [from the PMA booth] to the Produce Pavilion."

O'Neil added that next year, PMA will welcome the chance to exhibit some of its own products and services, particularly its computer-based training program.

At least one produce company who has exhibited under PMA's name in at past shows will strike out on its own next year. "We're going to have our own booth," said Robin Osterhues, director of marketing for Frieda's, Los Alamitos, Calif. Frieda's has exhibited in the PMA booth for several years, and Osterhues credited the association for providing that service.

Despite the expense of exhibiting, FMI is a worthwhile show, she added. "At FMI, there's a different audience" than at trade show focused more narrowly on the produce business. Unlike other strictly-produce conventions, FMI attracts senior management outside of the produce department.

FMI, meanwhile, does not expect PMA's decision to have a significant impact on the Produce Pavilion at its convention next year, said Karen Brown, senior vice president of FMI.

"It has been a very successful pavilion," she said.

At this month's convention, the Produce Pavilion occupied 13,000 square feet, making it the largest category showcase on the show floor.