WMU’s Food Marketing Conference to draw nearly 900 industry leaders

contact: Jenna Giragosian
| WMU News

WMU Food Marketing Conference ballroom.KALAMAZOO, Mich.–Western Michigan University’s acclaimed Food Marketing Conference unfolds Tuesday and Wednesday, March 21 and 22, and is expected to draw nearly 900 industry executives to DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.

The two-day conference will feature presentations on current trends in the food and consumer package goods industries and will explore this year’s conference theme, "Leading with Change." The conference will also include networking breaks and breakout sessions. Registration is ongoing at foodmarketingconference.com.

Again this year, the conference will feature an impressive speaker lineup and hot topic presentations including the popular executive forum, "A Retail Lens on the Food Industry," as well as a special presentation by comedian Steve Rizzo titled “Get Your SHIFT Together.”

Conference presentations

The lineup features sessions from industry leaders covering such topics as staying relevant in ever-changing markets, overcoming uncertainty and responding to retail trends.

  • Two early-bird concurrent sessions will kick off the conference. Early attendees can choose from “What’s next?” by Jordan Rost, vice president of consumer insights for Nielson, and “When Aldi and Lidi go Head-to-Head” by Bill Bishop, chief architect of Brick Meets Click and industry expert, and Bill Bolton, former CEO of Jewel Foods and industry consultant.
  • Michael Sansolo, retail food consultant, will offer a diverse, in-depth and unique view of the changing nature of today’s shoppers, employees and competition, and an exploration of the wide-ranging impact of economic issues. Sansolo’s session, “The Struggle for Relevance,” will examine what companies must do to remain relevant in this fast-changing world based on a new study from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council.
  • Val Oswalt, president, North America sales, Mondelez International, will speak about “Leading through Transformation.” This session will focus on how companies and organizations can help foster a culture that allows colleagues to not only survive change but also to flourish during times of uncertainty. Oswalt leads all direct-store delivery, as well as retail and customer headquarter activities for Mondelez’s snacks and confectionery businesses.
  • Kevin Hartman, head of analytics at Google, partners with major advertisers, creative agencies and media companies to develop digital solutions that build businesses and brands. Hartman’s session, “The Shopper of the Future: How to Reach Them, Engage Their Interests and Measure It All,” will explore recent trends in shopper behavior and how winning players have responded in the market and cast a keen eye toward the future of the retail landscape.
  • Jayne Homco, president, Kroger Co., Michigan Division, started the past year having achieved a remarkable 50 consecutive quarters of positive identical supermarket sales growth unlike any other retailer. This tremendous success can be attributed to the company’s “people first” approach of focusing on their associates and customers. Homco will share Kroger’s passion for people, results and food in her presentation titled “We Are in the People Business ... We Sell Groceries on the Side.”
  • A conference favorite, “Executive Forum,” moderated by Bryan Gildenberg, Kantar Retail’s chief knowledge officer, will feature executives from SpartanNash, Kellogg Co., Nestle Waters, Sam’s Club and MyWeb Grocer.

For a complete list of speakers, agenda and registration information, visit foodmarketingconference.com.

WMU Food Marketing Conference

In its 52nd year, the WMU Food Marketing Conference brings leading industry experts from around the country to West Michigan to share their knowledge and latest developments in the industry. The conference is a nonprofit event that supports scholarships and programs for unique educational experiences for WMU food marketing students.

For more information about the conference, visit foodmarketingconference.com or call the conference hotline, (269) 387-2132. To arrange media coverage, contact Stacey Markin at (269) 387-6936.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.