WMU News

Food industry leaders to gather for talks on next millennium

March 19, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- Food industry executives from around the Midwest will gather at Western Michigan University Monday and Tuesday, March 30-31, to hear what's in store for food retailers in the next century.

"Preparing for the New Millennium" is the title of the 33rd annual Food Marketing Conference at the Bernhard Center on the WMU campus. The event will feature speakers who are leaders in such industry powerhouses as Gerber Products Co., Wal-Mart Super Centers and American Stores Inc.

Some 500 to 600 retail food executives from firms across the Midwest are expected to attend the event and interact with leaders at the highest levels of their industry.

The conference will open with a reception and dinner program beginning at 5 p.m. Monday. After a full day of presentations and panel discussions on Tuesday, the conference will conclude at 3:30 p.m.

This year's four featured speakers will include Al Piergallini, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Gerber Products Co. of Fremont, Mich. He will deliver the opening address, "Help Wanted: Better Public Understanding for the New Millennium," at 8 p.m. Monday.

Victor L. Lund, chairman and chief executive officer of American Stores Inc., based in based in Salt Lake City, will speak at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, focusing on the "Competitive Retail Environment." Mark Nichols, president and chief executive officer of Ralph Nichols Co. Dale Carnegie Training of Farmington Hills, Mich., will follow with a 9 a.m. examination of "Putting Balance in Our Lives."

The conference's closing speaker will be Nick White, executive vice president of Wal-Mart Super Centers of Bentonville, Ark. He will speak at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday and is expected to describe the nation's evolving retail marketplace.

Also on Tuesday, a series of eight workshops and speakers will focus on issues of concern to the industry. Those topics will range from store designs of the future and generational marketing to using the World Wide Web for marketing and ensuring a quality work force.

"The retail food business is facing challenges on many fronts," says Dr. Frank M. Gambino, associate professor of marketing and adviser to WMU's Food Marketing Program. "Mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target have all ventured into the food store business. Consumers' busy lifestyles have caused them to eat out more. Restaurants, fast food and even the Internet have become alternatives to shopping in supermarkets. This conference will provide some insight for retailers, manufacturers, distributors and brokers to better understand what the food industry might be like as we enter the new millennium,"

A popular annual feature of the conference is an executive roundtable, which this year will cover such topics as mergers and acquisitions and international marketing opportunities. Addressing those issues will be: Greg P. Josefowicz, executive vice president and general manager of Jewel-Osco Stores of Melrose Park, Ill.; Robert F. McCarthy Jr., president and chief executive officer of PMI Food Brokers of Lombard, Ill.; Marnette Perry, president of Kroger of Michigan, based in Livonia, Mich.; and Jonathan D. Wilson, executive vice president of the Kellogg Co. of Battle Creek, Mich. The panel will be moderated by Ted File, senior vice president of Information Resources Inc. of Chicago.

A special feature of this year's conference will be an award ceremony honoring Chicago area food retail executive Edward F. Buron, who is the 1998 recipient of the Adrian Trimpe Distinguished Service Award. Buron is senior vice president of human resources for Jewel-Osco Stores. (See related story in this packet.)

The annual food marketing conference is sponsored by WMU's Food Marketing Program in the Haworth College of Business and by Sigma Phi Omega, a professional business fraternity. The cost of attending the conference for both days is $250. Single day registrations also are available at reduced prices. Reservations may be made by calling (616) 387-2132 or by faxing them to (616) 387-5710. For more information about the event, persons may call Gambino at (616) 387-6119.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland; cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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