Press Releases

PBH Brings Influencers to PMA Foodservice Conference Providing a Hands-On Tasting and Sensory Experience

Katie Toulouse, Communications Director
Produce for Better Health Foundation
[email protected]

Connecting the Produce Industry with Foodservice Leaders Increases Education & Awareness to Help Boost Fruit and Veggie Consumption

August 5, 2019 – As part of its commitment to increase fruit and vegetable consumption both in and away from home, the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) hosted its second annual Fresh Concepts event which brought influencers from volume foodservice together with leaders from the produce industry to share information and insights. Held in conjunction with the PMA Foodservice Conference + Expo, Fresh Concepts highlights the work menu R&D professionals do to bring new flavors, formats, and foods to American diners across a variety of channels. PBH’s hand-selected leaders this year came from chain restaurants, leading contract dining organizations, and influential campus dining programs.

“Consumers are now spending 54% of their food dollars on foods prepared away from home. Restaurants and other foodservice outlets are having an increasing impact on our attitudes toward food, our flavor preferences, and our expectations for what we want from retail,” says Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, PBH’s culinary and foodservice specialist. “It’s important for produce industry leaders to work with foodservice leaders to keep up with the trends, the demands, and the power of the people in foodservice.”

The culinary and foodservice leaders participated in focus group discussions with potato breeders from HZPC; field and processing facility tours with Taylor Farms Foodservice; a chef tasting and sensory experience with Duda Farm Fresh Foods; and a new product showcase on the expo floor with Del Monte Fresh and Mann Packing.

Ken Toong, Executive Director of Auxiliary Enterprises, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and wife Pam Toong participate in the Duda Celery Field Visit, Chef Tasting and Sensory Experience

All of the influencers agreed that the event was informative and critical to the work they do, especially when it comes to working towards the overall goal of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption:

“Increasingly, we need to collaborate and cooperate across various channels of food service, manufacturers, distributors and growers.  Traditional standards of size, shape, color and shelf life are no longer acceptable to our customers – nor should they ever been. Today’s customers are looking for items with distinguished aroma, flavor and taste that are specific to the fruit or vegetable,” says Rafi Taherian, associate vice president of Yale Hospitality, which serves more than 15,000 meals per day to demanding Gen Z customers; Taherian also serves on the multi-sector PBH Industry Leadership Advisory Council.

“If you have something new for the market, share it with us. We’re always looking for new products, new colors, new flavors, new opportunities to delight our guests and clients,” says John Coker, senior vice president, FoodWorks, a division of Compass Group North America.

Foodservice Leaders Participate in Taylor Farm’s New Product Evaluation

“It’s important for produce companies and other suppliers to engage with us earlier in the process,” says Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, which feeds more than 8 million meals per year. “Don’t tell us what you have to sell us. Talk with us about what we need, and we can partner with you to bring new produce items to market.”

“This was an incredible program,” says Chef Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney’s B&L in Sacramento, America’s Farm to Fork Capital. “Chefs of independent restaurants like mine have many direct relationships with small growers. It was impressive to see the efficiency of production in the Salinas Valley, inspiring to meet growers who brought new products to the U.S., and important to make connections with distributors who have such impact on the larger market. I appreciate PBH making this possible for me, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with colleagues in this area.”

Event partners, Del Monte Fresh and Mann Packing, introduced foodservice leaders to new product, Caulilini® Baby Cauliflower, on the expo floor, pictured above

“Strategic partnerships like these allows our expanding network of key influencers to join the plant-forward dialogue and take back learnings they can immediately implement,” says Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, president and CEO of PBH. “It also helps the produce industry expand their strategic thinking beyond retail applications. It’s important that these conversations happen if we want to uncover innovative ways to connect with the consumer at various eating occasions, including inspiring positive interactions with fruits and veggies in an away-from-home setting.”

To learn more about the Fresh Concepts event and how you can participate next year, contact PBH’s Events and Education Manager, Sharese Roper at [email protected].


About the Produce for Better Health Foundation

Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), a nonprofit 501(c)(3), is the only national organization dedicated to helping consumers live happier, healthy lives by eating more fruits and vegetables, including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice, every single day.

Since 1991, PBH has invested decades into developing trended insights on attitudes toward all forms of fruit and vegetable consumption, in addition to campaigns and partnerships with government, food industry stakeholders, health professionals and other thought leaders to collaborate, facilitate and advocate for increased intake. Campaigns included first, the 5-A-Day program, and then, the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters public health initiative. While five fruits and vegetables each day is great advice, and more will always matter, PBH’s new behavior-based call-to-action is Have A Plant™. Rooted in behavioral science, PBH’s transformative Have A Plant™ movement is an invitation that will inspire people with compelling reasons to believe in the powerful role fruits and vegetables can play to create happy, healthy and active lives.

Be sure to join the Have A Plant™ movement and get new recipes, snack hacks, meal ideas and other tips from chefs, registered dietitians, as well as food and wellness experts by visiting Follow us on Facebook @fruitsandveggies; on Twitter @fruits_veggies; on Instagram @fruitsandveggies; on Pinterest @fruits_veggies; and on LinkedIn at Produce for Better Health Foundation. And remember to #haveaplant.