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Fresh Connections: ‘Relish power of fresh produce to fight disease’

The PMA Fresh Connections Southern Africa virtual conference is currently underway and day one was explosive to say the least

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Day two of this year’s Fresh Connections: Southern Africa conference kicked off moments ago. Cathy Burns, chief executive of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), is now presenting on the global state of the fresh produce market amid the covid-19 pandemic while also sharing top trends in technology, e-commerce, sustainability and consumer trends, among others.

Last night, at the official opening of the virtual conference, two international speakers took the centre stage. First-up was world-renowned physician and author Dr William Li who urged attendees to fuel their menus and bodies with “the power of produce”.

“Food as medicine is not just an idea whose time has come. It is an idea that is essential to our health. Whether you are trying to stay well or take back your health, fighting a chronic disease,” Li said.

“Activating our immune defences is our chance to lock out covid-19 and prevent it from entering our bodies.” – Dr William Li

Li listed ten fresh produce items that are key to sustaining health. “Guavas and peppers are packed with vitamin C which helps build immune cells and improves natural antibody production. This, together with turmeric, is an excellent way to reduce inflammation in the body. Mushrooms contain vitamin D and Beta-D glucan, which creates antibodies in your saliva, so it stops the virus as it enters the mouth.”

Furthermore, Trevor Dukes, chief executive of Fruit Farm Group and chairman of the PMA in Southern Africa, highlighted the importance for the industry to connect locally and globally to share insights on how the industry can survive and thrive. “Some sectors of the industry, such as fresh produce in retail, are experiencing highs whilst other sectors, such as foodservice, have encountered unprecedented lows. Now is the time to be resilient, build partnerships and seek opportunities.”

The covid-19 pandemic has, however, also presented many opportunities for the fresh produce industry. Lauren Scott, PMA’s chief strategy and membership officer, noted that while most understand the importance of eating fresh produce, there was often a disconnect in consumers between what they know and what they do. “But now, having a strong immune system has become essential to everyday life, well-being and long-term prosperity.”

WATCH: Top international speakers confirmed for fresh connections

Meanwhile, more top presentations are expected both today and tomorrow. Also on the line-up is Peter van Kets, a professional extreme adventurer. His talk “Grit and Resolve: keys to achieve and sustain true success”, is a must-hear. He promises to invoke a reawakening in the innovation of the supply value chain. Through perseverance, grit and passion, there is success, he believes.

Late registrations are still accepted. For the first time in a decade, you can still register free of charge for a seat at the table for one of the most insightful and interactive webinars with the experts in the entire produce value chain.

Noluthando Ngcakani
Noluthando Ngcakani
With roots in the Northern Cape, this Kimberley Diamond has had a passion for telling human interest stories since she could speak her first words. A foodie by heart, she began her journalistic career as an intern at the SABC where she discovered her love for telling agricultural, community and nature related stories. Not a stranger to a challenge Ngcakani will go above and beyond to tell your truth.
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