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Michigan meeting’s goal: Marketing fresh produce
Michigan Correspondent

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Marketing fresh food in the 21st century is the aim of the 2006 Produce Marketing Conference.

This year’s Produce Marketing Confer-ence will provide fresh fruit and vegetable growers, shippers, packers, processors and retailers with timely information about marketing strategies, consumer preferences, national and international competition and ideas for improving profitability and remaining competitive in today’s business environment.

The conference is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Grand Rapids. The conference is in conjunction with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo.

Edith Garrett, president of Edith Garrett and Associates, a consulting firm focused on helping the international fresh fruit and vegetable industry prepare for future business trends, will be the day’s keynote speaker. A former president of the International fresh-cut Produce Assoc., Garrett will discuss how the fresh produce industry can meet the challenges of the 21st century marketplace.

Participants also will learn about future trends in packaging, branding and merchandising from Michigan State University (MSU) professors of packaging Bruce Harte and Paul Singh. The pair will talk about current and upcoming innovations in fresh produce packaging.

Keith Adler, MSU associate professor of advertising, public relations and retailing, will address why and how branding is used in the fresh produce industry.

The morning will conclude with a talk on the future of merchandising by Jim Spilka, vice president of produce for supercenter retailer Meijer.

Selling fresh produce in Michigan will be the topic for the day’s luncheon. Presen-ters Sue Schweim, manager of business outreach, and Tony DesChanes, director of commodities for the Michigan Depart-ment of Management and Budget, which procures produce contracts for all state agencies and currently manages 2,200 contracts valued at more than $11.6 billion, will be the featured speakers.

The afternoon session will include presentations regarding global marketing challenges, using branding and packaging to meet consumer expectations and retail trends in the fresh produce industry.

The conference will conclude with a speaker question-and-answer session.

Registration for the one-day conference is $70 for the first registrant from a business or organization and $40 for each additional person. The registration deadline is Nov. 28. Lunch, breaks and materials are included in the fee.

To register or for more information call Tom Kalchik, associate director of the MSU Product Center, at 517-432-8752 or e-mail him at

Registration forms are available at

A separate registration fee is required to attend the expo.

This farm news was published in the Nov. 22, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.