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Food industry leaders converge on Kalamazoo

March 23, 2006

KALAMAZOO--How to survive in an increasingly competitive environment, dealing with workforce challenges and appealing to a growing Hispanic population are among the topics to be addressed at Western Michigan University's 41st Food Marketing Conference March 27-28, an event that annually draws more than 500 food industry executives to Kalamazoo.

The conference will be held at the Radisson Plaza Hotel downtown. The theme this year is "Winning through Differentiation: People, Products and Services that Make a Difference" and will be addressed by a lineup of industry leaders from the likes of Kroger, Roundy's, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Sara Lee and many more.

This year's conference will partner for the third straight year with Network of Executive Women, a national advocacy and professional organization, to provide nearly two full days of networking, speakers and workshops. The NEW presentation will kick off with a luncheon program at noon Monday, March 27, featuring Trudy Bourgeois, author and president and CEO of the Center for Workforce Excellence. A panel discussion also will take place featuring business executives Kim Feil, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Sara Lee Corp.; Ruth McCarthy, vice president of home for Meijer; and Julie Washington, vice president of marketing development for Procter & Gamble.

The NEW presentations will be followed by conference registration from 4 to 6 p.m. and an early bird "Super Session" with Harold Lloyd, president and CEO of Harold Lloyd Presents, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. For nearly two decades, Lloyd has worked very closely with small and large businesses to provide a push in the right direction. His mission is to provide qualified, executive level assistance to companies, eliminating the need to add permanent top management overhead. His presentation is titled "Here Comes the Future: Will I Survive?"

Rounding out Monday's activities is a featured presentation by Al Carey, president of PepsiCo sales, from 8:30 to 9:15 p.m. PepsiCo is the third largest food and beverage company globally. Carey is responsible for sales at retail, foodservice and PepsiCo's go-to-market strategies for such brands as Frito-Lay, the world's largest manufacturer and distributor of snacks; Pepsi-Cola, the second largest soft drink business; Tropicana, the largest maker and producer of branded juices; Gatorade, the world's leading sports drink; and Quaker Foods, with such leading brands as Quaker Oats.

Carey's presentation is titled "The Case for Fundamental Workforce Change" and will discuss the challenges a changing work force will have for both retailers and manufacturers. The look of new employees is going to change in the next decade, with this new group dominated by women and minorities. Carey will explore how market demographics are changing faster than most businesses are reacting and that there will be a shortage of 10 million workers in this country by 2010 and 35 million by 2035. He will discuss the impact of these demographic shifts and what it means for companies to adapt their cultures to them.

Carey's address will be preceded by a welcome reception from 6 to 7 p.m. and dinner from 7 to 8 p.m.

Tuesday's activities include two series of concurrent workshops, a generational panel discussion and presentations by two featured speakers, John Flood, chief customer officer with Sara Lee Foodservice, and Jon Flora, senior vice president and an officer for the Kroger Co.

Flood's presentation, from 8:15 to 9 a.m., is titled "Differentiating in a Blurring Marketplace." His company, Sara Lee, is a top-10 supplier of meat, bakery, coffee and tea to the food service industry. His background as president of the Sara Lee Deli and Foodservice business allows for an objective look at the role of food service in the retail environment. Sara Lee's winning brands include Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farms, State Fair and, of course, Sara Lee Bakery and Deli products.

Flood will examine how food service growth continues to outpace traditional retail sales and is projected to surpass it in total dollars by 2010. Retailers need to, and some are, responding to this shift by adding "solutions," seeking to appeal to and win with their customers. This is creating a significant blur for retailers and manufacturers alike on how to approach and finally succeed.

The panel discussion is from 9 to 9:45 a.m. and will address "Generations: Confronting Industry Issues from Different Perspectives." The panel will be moderated by Kevin Coupe, founder and editor of MorningNewsBeat.com, and panelists will include Michael Sansolo of the Food Marketing Institute, Jim Flannery of Procter & Gamble, Gini Roback of Roundy's Supermarkets, and Marv Imus, president of Paw Paw Shopping Center, as well as two current WMU food marketing students and two alumni, who will return to campus after a year in the workplace.

The session will be preceded by an online dialogue that will take place on MorningNewsBeat. The discussion is intended to stimulate fresh thinking and new approaches and expose the differences between generations leading to preconceptions and misconceptions.

Flora will take to the podium from 2 to 2:45 p.m. with a presentation titled "People, Products and Services that Make a Difference." He previously served as president of Kroger's Great Lakes Division and president of the former Michigan Division for several years. Over the past four years, he has played a critical role in expanding Kroger's operations and customer base in the Great Lakes region.

Flora has served in a variety of management positions over the past 33 years, including vice president of operations and vice president of merchandising, real estate, facility engineering, warehousing, distribution and transportation. He will share valuable perspectives on how retailers can differentiate to compete successfully through people, products and services.

Tuesday's concurrent, one-hour workshops will be divided into two sets, with five running from 10 to 11 a.m. and another five from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The sessions will feature such topics as alternative store formats, consumer behavior in the Hispanic market, utilizing private labels and the use of RFID--radio frequency identification--technology.

The annual Food Marketing Conference is presented by WMU's Food and Consumer Packaged Goods Marketing Program in the Haworth College of Business. All proceeds from the conference support food and CPG marketing scholarships and program operations.

For more conference information, including cost and registration details, call the event hotline at (269) 387-2132 or visit the conference Web Site at www.hcob.wmich.edu/fmc.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400