Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture

Students Network with Produce, Floral Industry Pros

Published Date: Sep 3, 2020 11:00:00 AM

More than 50 plant science, nutrition and food science, agribusiness and food industry management students attended a conference to learn about career opportunities in the produce and floral industries and network with industry professionals

During the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Convention and Expo, students were paired with industry mentors who guided them through the exhibitor floor and interactions with company representatives.

The mentors included fresh produce and floral consultant Dick Spezzano, Jeff Burch of Bank of the West, and representatives from Dole Foods, Fruit Ripe, and Frieda’s Specialty Produce.   

More than 1,200 exhibitors, 3,200 buyers, and 22,000 participants from more than 60 countries attended the expo.

Among the companies and organizations that the students met with were Calavo Bank of the West, the California Avocado Commission, Dole, Giumarra, GreenFruit Avocados, Mellano & Co., the Produce Marketing Association, Sunkist, the Pinery, Del Rey Avocado, Eco Farms, Index Fresh and the North American Blueberry Council.

Lecturer Katie Horvath used the conference as an opportunity for her agribusiness sales course, and students were asked to develop a sales pitch and plan for networking with industry members. 

At the conference, each student had to engage with industry representatives and gather information about pre-selected companies.

They had to ask about any upcoming job opportunities or internships and pitch themselves for employment or internships.

In addition to the exhibitor booths, the students had an opportunity visit the “Freshtival” – an outdoor plaza with activities, free samples, food trucks and coffee carts. Exhibitors also used the “Fresh Ideas Showcase” to display new products and services.

The conference was held Oct. 18, 2019, at the Anaheim Convention Center. Although it comes to Southern California only once very four years, the 2020 conference will be held online, so Cal Poly Pomona students will be able to participate again.