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54th Annual Food Marketing Conference

March 26-27, 2019

DeVos Place, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Conference Hotel: Amway Grand Plaza Reservations

Conference Hotline: (269) 387-2132

Why Attend the WMU Food Marketing Conference?

The top 2 reasons attendees give for attending the Food Marketing Conference are the high quality educational content and the exceptional networking opportunities with industry partners.

  • 100% of conference survey respondents rated the WMU Food Marketing Conference as Exceptional or Above Average compared with other industry conferences they have attended.
  • 95% of conference survey respondents said they would recommend the Food Marketing Conference to someone they know.
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Pictured is the Food Marketing Conference
Pictured is the Food Marketing Conference
Pictured is the Food Marketing Conference

Event Schedule

Time Schedule Venue

Tuesday, March 26

8:00 a.m. Registration Opens Secchia Lobby
9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Early Bird Super Sessions
Lori Stillman headshot
Face First: Biometrics and Facial Recognition in Next Generation Retail
Lori Stillman, Executive Vice President, Analytics, Insights and Intelligence, Advantage Solutions

Facial recognition technology is finally hitting its stride. From unlocking your iPhone to ‘Pay by Smile’ mobile payment technologies, modern retail is poised for dramatic change. As consumers balance privacy concerns with the levels of security and convenience that technology offers, the landscape before us opens doors to improved service delivery, strengthened relationships and frictionless experience. Lori Stillman will share examples of biometric and facial recognition being used across the globe in her fast-paced and entertaining style. She will not only shed light on the trade-offs consumers are willing to make at the crossroad of technology and privacy, but give you critical insight into the steps your organization must take to balance privacy with innovation.

Brad Oberwager headshot
Workplace Transformation and the Gig Economy
Brad Oberwager, Founder and CEO, Jyve

Gone are the days when most people in the workforce held a regular job for just one company. Working nine-to-five for a single employer bears little resemblance to the way a substantial share of the workforce makes a living today. No matter what role you play in the retail space, shifts in the workforce have implications for everyone. As the workplace evolves with changes in consumer behavior, technological innovation and high wages, employee turnover remains on the rise. Amid a rapidly evolving landscape, traditional strategies will not solve the new challenges facing our industry. Brad Oberwager will argue that the single most significant factor that will drive our success as an industry is labor. In this provocative talk, Oberwager will assert that the key to unlocking our impending labor crisis is an unorthodox shift in how we think about the future of work.

Kurt Jetta headshot
Online Grocery: Are We There Yet?
Kurt Jetta, Executive Chairman, Founder and CEO, TABS Analytics

Online grocery got its start in the late 1990’s with the founding of Webvan and Peapod. However, the dot-com crash and competitive pressures stifled growth for the next 10 years. Early in this decade, better technologies, more funding and the growth of Amazon drove renewed interest in online grocery. While the channel has made impressive gains in the past few years, it has not reached comparable brick-and-mortar penetration and loyalty levels among consumers. Kurt will discuss online grocery’s historical development and benchmark it against several categories where online is well established. He will also detail what will likely be the growth levers pushing online grocery further and the trends he sees shaping 2019, including how brick-and-mortar retailers will use both their online and physical assets to their advantage against pure-play online retailers. Join Kurt for this fact-based, insightful session on the past, present and future of online grocery.

Ashleigh Borchers headshot Stephen McGowan headshot
Importance of Partnership in Driving Conversion
Ashleigh Borchers, Customer Director, Shopper Marketing, Mondelēz International
Stephen McGowan, Head of Shopper Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, Mondelēz International

In this session, attendees will learn the value of developing partnerships in the creation of compelling programs that lead to conversion with consumers. Partnership is key to the development of inspiring consumer centric programs that start with a great insight, creative idea, full 360-degree program, retailer/shopper customization and leveraging of the right vendor and other partners to bring the idea to life. The intent of the partnership is to drive awareness of the brand or program with the retailer and the shopper that ultimately leads to conversion. Ashleigh Borchers and Stephen McGowan will share how Mondelēz International brings great partnerships to life—how and when we engage with our retail partners and how and when we select vendors and other partners to help bring the idea to life in a full omni-channel experience. Lastly, Borchers and McGowan will share examples of some great recent partnership programs.

Grand Gallery Overlook AB, CD, EF, GH
11:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Speaker Jody Kalmbach
How America’s Largest Grocery Retailer is Redefining the Customer Experience
Jody Kalmbach, Vice President, Digital Business at Kroger

The nation’s largest traditional supermarket chain is investing aggressively in building digital platforms that give customers the ability to buy anything, anytime, anywhere from Kroger. The Restock Kroger initiative aims to build out Kroger’s e-commerce and omni-channel businesses as well as optimize the shopper experience through store improvements, digital innovation and talent development. Kroger serves more than nine million customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience with over 2,800 food stores under a variety of retail banners. Kroger continues to redefine the customer experience through pickup, ship and home delivery modalities along with innovative partnerships like Ocado, Nuro and Walgreens.

Ballroom BCD
11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Speaker
The Inspired Consumer: A New Digital Shopper
Arthur Sevilla, Strategy and Marketing Lead, Pinterest

Consumers see more than 300 ads a day across platforms—and breaking through the clutter is critical for brands and retailers to grow. Although in-store activity is essential for capitalizing on impulse purchases, shoppers are increasingly turning to digital to plan their grocery trips. The digital shopping experience has become much more than just the transaction. With a chance to make an impact on a consumer in an authentic way, how must brands and retailers evolve to deliver content that is personalized and contextualized for their customers? In this session, Arthur Sevilla will help marketers learn how to think outside the constraints of analog tactics and rethink the role of digital in shaping shopper behavior.

Ballroom BCD
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch Ballroom BCD
1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Speaker
Marketing to Moms: Why is the Bar Set so Low?
Lauren Fitzgerald, Partner at The Mom Complex

Mothers are the most powerful target audience on the planet, controlling 85 percent of all household purchases and $3.2 trillion in spending power. Yet 75 percent of mothers say marketers have “no idea” what it’s like to be a mother. How can this possibly be? Join Lauren Fitzgerald, partner at The Mom Complex, as she shines a light on this massive disconnect and shares three ways to bridge the gap. This thought-provoking address has implications for virtually everyone involved in marketing and leadership. Having developed successful mom-focused work for brands ranging from Walmart and Tylenol to the Discovery Network and Lego, Fitzgerald will explain how to create better marketing that helps moms feel understood while helping brands see a better bottom line—the ultimate win/win. Attendees will learn how to leverage new tools to crack the code with mom consumers, how to push beyond traditional marketing messages and deliver true utility and connection, and how to use consumer-led, retail-relevant ideas to put an end to mediocre mom marketing.

Ballroom BCD
2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Executive Forum
An Industry in Transformation
Moderator Michael Sansolo

The food and consumer package goods industry is in the midst of a transformational revolution that promises to change the face of our industry as we know it. Shifting consumer buying patterns, innovative workplace models, new marketplace dynamics and technology that is advancing at the speed of light all are transforming our industry. New disruptive business models are bringing levels of convenience consumers are looking for, from direct-to-consumer to front door delivery convenience. Small box retailers are expanding rapidly, offering high value propositions as well as differentiated consumer experiences. Retail Food Industry Consultant Michael Sansolo, along with an expert panel of industry executives, will examine the transformation taking place within our industry and the disruptive forces that are reshaping our industry.
Maria Francisca Gallegos headshot
Maria Francisca Gallegos, former Marketing Director, Amazon Prime

Steve Henig headshot
Steve Henig, Vice President of E-Commerce, Shoprite

Kevin Jackson headshot
Kevin Jackson, Senior Vice President U.S. Sales, Smucker's

Amanda McVay headshot
Amanda McVay, Group Vice President, Meijer

Carrie Sander headshot
Carrie Sander, Vice President of Sales, Kellogg Company

Richard Thompson headshot
Richard Thompson, Vice President of Retail Operations, Kroger

Ballroom BCD
3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Networking and Coffee Break Secchia Lobby
4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Super Sessions
Sally Lyons-Wyatt headshot
Stirring the U.S. Melting Pot for Growth
Sally Lyons Wyatt, Executive Vice President, IRI Global

The way consumers shop, cook and dine is changing dramatically. From shopping for food and beverage items both online and in the store to eating fresh, frozen, plant-based, functional and alternative foods, consumer purchasing and consumption habits have never been so varied. CPG companies know that U.S. consumers’ eating preferences cross a wide spectrum of differences. Understanding the factors that drive these variances is the key to innovating product lines and capturing more “share of stomach.” To help you understand U.S. consumers and stay ahead of the curve, IRI’s Sally Lyons Wyatt will share retail-based consumer and shopper sales trends, identify outperforming segments and uncover vulnerabilities during her presentation. She also will provide geographic insights that will help you meet consumers’ needs and identify opportunities to capture even more growth.

Ryan Blanck headshot Tim Lester headshot
Above the Line: How to Build a Coaching Culture
Ryan Blanck, Founder and CEO, Deviate
Tim Lester, Head Football Coach, Western Michigan University

Many perceive conflict as uncomfortable and avoid it altogether, or in many cases, they handle it with aggression. Ignoring the issues won’t make them go away–it sabotages careers, teams, locker rooms and friendships. Leaders are expected to prepare for and confront challenges in real-time. Sadly, too many people shy away from real conversations and end up creating a water-cooler culture. Big things can happen when conflict is used as a tool to grow individuals, restore trust and improve culture. Clearing the air minimizes stories and improves alignment and communication. These factors positively affect the bottom line, engagement and retention. Managing conflict is not enough and waiting for conflict to happen is passive and not leadership. If you’re interested to learn how to proactively build a coaching culture, then this conversation is for you. Ryan Blanck and Tim Lester provide you with guiding principles to help lead your lives, families and teams differently.

Andy Lytwynec headshot
Cannabis Legalization—Impact on CPGs and Retailers
Andy Lytwynec, Vice President of Commercial Strategy, U.S., Canopy Growth

As the vice president for commercial strategy at Canopy Growth, Andy Lytwynec is helping the world’s largest legal cannabis producer navigate the complicated and fast-changing marketplace for cannabis in the United States. As more states legalize cannabis for medical and recreational consumption, support for broader scale legalization or decriminalization at the federal level is at all-time highs and could be a reality sooner than many anticipate. Join Lytwynec for a discussion on how the end of cannabis prohibition might impact the status quo across the consumer package goods landscape. Topics will include how the cannabis regulatory landscape in the US might evolve in the coming years; what CPGs and retailers can do to prepare for how cannabis may or may not impact their current business; and the role branding can play in educating consumers and promoting responsible consumption.

Maria Francisca Gallegos headshot
Online Grocery Shopping: Practical Considerations to Blunt Migration and Attract a New Consumer
Maria Francisca Gallegos, former Senior Marketing Director, Amazon Prime

In as few as five-to-seven years, 70 percent of U.S. consumers will shop for groceries online. What are the key drivers of this migration? How will scale platforms like Amazon and Walmart continue to grow? And, how can regional traditional grocery retailers win with click and collect? In this presentation, you will learn about key market drivers and how you can build a winning omni-channel shopping experience. A retail and e-tail marketing leader, Maria Gallegos led the marketing, online merchandising and growth strategies for Amazon Prime Now, the hyper-growth global grocery business for Amazon now integrated with Amazon Fresh. In this presentation, she will address consumer adoption/trial strategies; marketing best practices; how to drive an integrated experience; trends and best practices with click and collect 3rd parties; overcoming real-time product availability challenges; and leveraging your physical stores as an asset to your omni-channel strategy.

Grand Gallery Overlook AB, CD, EF, GH
5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Networking Reception and Dinner Ballroom BCD

Wednesday, March 27

7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Registration Opens Secchia Lobby
7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Breakfast Ballroom BCD
8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Speaker
Delivering a Personal Customer Experience Right to your Door
Chieh Huang, President and CEO of Boxed.com

Fondly called the “Costco for Millennials,” Boxed.com is a digitally native buy-in-bulk retailer with mobile ordering, speedy delivery and great savings. It sells and delivers a variety of products from several categories, including grocery; bath and body; home and appliances; lifestyle; and pets. Consumers can buy anything from chips to toilet paper—all in bulk. Boxed.com was founded in 2013 by an experienced group of tech pioneers with a simple idea: make shopping for bulk easy, convenient and fun, so you can focus on the things that really matter. The last 24 months have undoubtedly been a period of tectonic change for retail, and that will have a marked impact on the opportunities that lie ahead for bricks and clicks alike. Are these changes necessarily a bad thing for retailers and for brands? Chieh Huang’s presentation will cover where the industry has been and where it is heading from an in-the-trenches perspective that started in a New Jersey garage.

Ballroom BCD
9:15 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Speaker
Against the Odds: How Some Grocery Stores are Thriving in this New Age of Retail
Kevin Kelley, Principal, Shook Kelley Design

The last decade or so has been a period of deep questioning and debate as to how to combat all the new forces confronting the grocery industry, particularly as they relate to digital and new consumer shopping behaviors. Grocery store leaders are having to wrestle with challenging issues such as what to do about reduced center store traffic, what size stores to build going forward, how to address the growing natural/organic issues, how to develop better foodservice components, and of course, how to better integrate technology. While some grocery store chains have been severely battered by all of these new forces, there are select grocery store organizations that are discovering new and innovative ways to not only survive but actually thrive in this new era of retail. During this provocative session, Kevin E. Kelley — an architect who is often referred to as the “Retail Doctor” — will provide insightful strategies, principles and tools he believes will be essential for grocery retailers to embrace in the future.

Ballroom BCD
10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Coffee and Networking Break Seccia Lobby
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Breakout Session I
George Carey headshot
How Four Shifts in Gen Z’s Emotional Landscape are Turning Food, Beverage, and Wellbeing Upside-Down
George Carey, Founder and CEO, The Family Room Strategic Consulting Group

Much has been written and said about Gen Z’s new relationship with entertainment and technology. But what about their relationship to the foods they eat, the beverages they drink, and their broader attitudes toward health and wellbeing? This generation will soon be the hungriest, thirstiest and most affluent consumer cohort in the world. But do you know the core emotional needs that define them and how they will manifest in the world of in-home and out-of-home dining? In this session, George Carey will share findings from the 2019 Gen Z Passion Point™ study to provide insights into the new emotional landscape of Gen Z and the doors it opens for retailers, brand marketers and new product innovators. In this session, the emotional game changers, the food and beverage connections, and new product and brand positioning opportunities will be explored. Participants should be prepared for an entirely new perspective on the emotional truths that drive Gen Z decision-making.

Amanda Blanck headshot
Leading with Intention: The Benefits of Values-Based Leadership
Amanda Blanck, Managing Partner, Deviate

You know those sessions where you are expected to listen the entire time? That model is boring and the antithesis of this program. This session will be fun, fast-paced, and hands-on. Think about this: a pilot never takes off without knowing the destination and flight plan ahead of time. What if leaders led with this type of intentionality? Too many leaders haven’t identified the North Star required to guide their companies and their leadership. Sadly, they don’t know they have steered in the wrong direction until it’s too late–almost out of gas, burned out, and leading from a place of deficiency and desperation. All roads leading to a life well lived stem from your values–what you stand for. In this session, Amanda Blanck and participants will create a values-based leadership roadmap used to navigate life and leadership.

Norty Cohen headshot
Understanding Brand Communities and the Need to Belong
Norty Cohen, CEO and Founder, Moosylvania

More than other consumers, millennials are joiners. Visit a gathering place of millennials, such as a coffee shop, and notice their laptops are billboards for the brands they most identify with—sticker as a personal profile. Norty Cohen and his agency, Moosylvania, have been fielding national research studies on favorite brands since 2013. The first five years of this research provided the basis of the book “The Participation Game.” The thesis: people don’t consume advertising—they choose to participate in brands. For the last few years, Moosylvania has undertaken a new round of discovery on brand communities and how and why they form–understanding what it takes to become that sticker on a laptop. This research uncovered a three-part formula, ignite the fire; fuel the flame and pass the torch—and a second book, “Join the Brand.”

Joe McQuesten headshot Gary Saarenvirta headshot
How Artificial Intelligence is Augmenting Merchandising Decisions and Strategies
Joe McQuesten, Senior VP Merchandising, SpartanNash
Gary Saarenvirta Founder and CEO, Daisy Intelligence

This session is all about ensuring your business is realizing operational efficiencies that exceed your competitors and that you are fully leveraging your data in the new world of retail. Consumers place great value on promotions and deals; at the same time, they also demand accessibility and convenience. These criteria draw grocers and other retailers into a vicious cycle of cost-cutting to remain competitive. All the while, industry consolidation and large-scale acquisitions place even greater pressure on an already competitive landscape. So where does artificial intelligence play a role in this highly competitive environment, present and future? How will it augment a merchandiser’s role, drive down prices and ultimately benefit society as a whole? Learn how artificial intelligence offers tremendous opportunity for companies looking to transform their merchandising and marketing efforts.

Alex Marx headshot Daena Rexho headshot
Start-Up Panel:Next Generation Natural Food Entrepreneurs
Moderator Alex Marx, Director of Growth Solutions at KeHE Distributors and Daena Rexho, Growth Solutions Manager at KeHE Distributors

A panel conversation with innovative natural food leaders of today who are shaping tomorrow's food culture. These young and progressive entrepreneurs will be discussing how they have grown their trend-foward natural food businesses into organizations that are influencing food culture. From building the right teams to sticking by your mission, these leaders share their thoughts on what it takes to succeed. Expect to learn about their struggles and victories, as well as they balance purpose and profit by becoming positive influences on their communities and the global food chain.
Lisa Curtis headshot
Lisa Curtis, Founder & CEO, Kuli Kuli

Ari Sherman headshot
Ari Sherman, President, Hemp Health

Jourdan Samel headshot
Jourdan Samel, CEO, Hemp Health

Kaitlin Smith headshot
Kaitlin Smith, Founder & CEO, Simple Mills

Matt Clifford headshot
Matt Clifford, Co-Founder & COO, Barnana

Nik Ingersoll headshot
Nik Ingersoll, Founder & CMO, Barnana

Grand Gallery Overlook AB, CD, EF, G and H
11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Breakout Session II
Wayne Duan headshot
What Brands and Retailers Need to Know About Each Other to Win in the Age of the Consumer
Wayne Duan, Vice President of eCommerce, Constellation Brands

After his time as general manager at Walgreens.com, Wayne Duan crossed over from retail to brand, and he’s perfectly positioned to help both sides understand how ecommerce and digital can quickly amplify or hinder a brand’s growth and prospects in the age of the consumer. This is not a presentation on “did you know more people are shopping online via mobile?” or “Gen Z will be the most digitally-connected generation ever.” In this session, Duan will provide concrete insights and actions you can take back to the office. He will discuss what consumer package goods companies can do to improve and engage their understanding of the role ecommerce and digital play for their retailers’ future strategies. Duan will also discuss what retailers can do to get CPGs to engage and support their ecommerce and digital strategies while tapping into those elusive incremental CPG budgets.

Yvonne Trupiano headshot
Building a Brand to Attract. Creating a Culture to Retain.
Yvonne Trupiano, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, SpartanNash

Join Yvonne Trupiano as she shares how best-in-class businesses need to develop an employment brand to attract top talent and consider the employee experience to build an award-winning culture. Today’s workforce is changing, and many employers now have five generations of employees within their organization–all with a different set of expectations of what a great place to work means. Learn how technology can be used throughout the employee experience to attract, engage, develop and retain your most important asset, your people. What do you get when you build a brand to attract and create a culture to retain? A highly engaged workforce and a great place to work!

Mark Dickinson headshot
Retail Disruption: The Driving Roles of Technology, Branding and the New Consumer
Mark Dickinson, Managing Partner, Emerge

Retail has never been so unrelentingly vicious. From Circuit City to Sears to Wild Oats and Fresh & Easy. Dead or dead-man walking, and the scary thing is, there is a pace of change that is growing exponentially. A new Gen Z consumer, with up-and-coming purchasing power and diverse media tastes is a key consumer you will need to reach. And your prowess with big data, artificial intelligence, ecommerce and predictive purchasing will all lean in heavily on your future success (or failure). Mark Dickinson possesses a unique perspective on the global retail marketplace and how brands succeed within it. He has traversed the world, developing retail partnerships across five continents. In this session, Mark will address the top 10 key disruptive factors in the future, from tech to branding to the new consumer, and point to key imperatives for thriving in the future versus your competitors.

Thomas Kilbane headshot
Discover the Hidden Drivers that Retailers and CPG Companies Need to Know about Market Behavior
Thomas Kilbane, Economist, Prevedere

Nearly every retailer has the ability to report on internal metrics such as sales, pricing or store performance. What about factors outside of the traditional four walls? While marketing, promotions and price changes affect future sales, consumer behavior is also driven by numerous external factors. Wages, cost of fuel, consumer sentiment, and online search trends can impact the consumers’ willingness to buy but are factors beyond most companies’ control. Nonetheless, they can be analyzed and included in your plan. CPG companies that develop plans without the full consumer story risk experiencing loss of share, missed sales targets, or lackluster promotion performance.

How can consumer goods decision makers afford not to incorporate external factors while managing daily operations? In this session, Thomas Kilbane will explore the evolution of business intelligence, examining case studies throughout the presentation. The aim is to show what is possible when external data meets machine learning. The session will also provide a glimpse into the future for several major categories, showing the true drivers of demand.

Andy Ellwood headshot
Grocery at the Speed of Now - How Shoppers are Working Together to be the New Source of Truth
Andy Ellwood, CEO and Founder, Basket.com

In the past, there was a clear and controlled distribution of data between retailers, manufacturers, and shoppers. But today, with the rise of smart phones and community-driven shopping, the playing field is being leveled. New sources of data are being created that unlock critical insights about shoppers, their behaviors and the ways in which value can best be delivered to meet their needs. Will this new ecosystem create growing pains? You bet! But in the end, everyone can win ... but only if they can adjust quickly enough.

Grand Gallery Overlook AB, CD, EF, G and H
1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Luncheon Program and Awards Ballroom BCD
2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Speaker
Winners Dream: A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office
Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP

In the chronicles of CEOs, few people have the empathy, charisma and hunger of Bill McDermott. His career is a classic story of ambition and drive: from the hard-knock streets of his youth on Long Island, New York, to his first forays into business behind the counter of a deli he bought and operated at the age of 17, to his extraordinary rise through the Xerox Corporation where he won his first dream job and his emergence as CEO of one of the most successful and admired global companies of our age. Colorful and fast-paced, McDermott’s anecdotes contain effective takeaways: gutsy career moves; empathetic sales strategies; incentives that yield exceptional team performance; and proof of the competitive advantages of optimism and hard work. At the heart of his story is a blueprint for success and the knowledge that the real dream is the journey, not a pre-conceived destination. His personal story is chronicled in the international bestseller, “Winners Dream.”

Ballroom BCD



Access to all meals and sessions at the 2019 Food Marketing Conference for one person.

Table for 10

10 full registrations include access to all speakers and meals. You may bring 10 guests, or have open seats for students.

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Amway Grand Reservations
WMU's campus in Kalamazoo

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Kalamazoo, the home of WMU’s main campus is one hour south of Grand Rapids. WMU also two Grand Rapids locations. If you would like to tour a campus, please call the conference hotline.

(269) 387-2132

2019 Platinum Sponsors

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2019 Diamond Sponsors

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2019 Gold Sponsors

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2019 Silver Sponsors

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