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Food industry execs gather for annual conference

March 16, 2009

KALAMAZOO--More than 400 leaders in the food industry will come here to discuss the evolving retail landscape, changes in the economy, attracting top talent and social networking when they gather for Western Michigan University's 44th Food Marketing Conference Monday and Tuesday, March 23-24, in the Radisson Plaza Hotel.

In addition, they will be kicking off the yearlong 50th anniversary celebration of WMUs Food and Consumer Package Goods Program.

The theme for this year's conference is "Leading and Winning in Transformational Times." Kicking off the event on Monday will be David Mackay, president and chief executive officer of Kellogg Co., who will provide insights into strategies companies can take to better position for growth and success in a talk titled "Leading and Winning with Dynamic Branded Players in a Recessionary Environment."

At 4 p.m. Phil Lempert, NBC Today Show food editor, will moderate an executive panel on the new economy. The panel will include Jim Wright, chairman, president and CEO of Tractor Supply; Mike Jackson, president and chief operating officer of Supervalue; Mark Batenic, chairman, president and CEO of IGA-USA; Alex Miller, president of Daymon Worldwide; and Craig Sturken, executive chairman of Spartan Stores.

Tuesday morning there will be two presentations. At 8:15 a.m. Matthew May, author of "In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing," will present insights on "Leading and Winning through Innovation." At 9 a.m. Michele Murphy, senior vice presidentof labor and employee relations for Supervalue, will describe the opportunities and challenges leaders face regarding the multi-generational, multi-cultural workforces of the future, along with winning top talent in her presentation "Leading and Winning Talent Strategies."

Thursday's four concurrent, one-hour breakout sessions will run from 10 to 11 a.m. and include the topics, "Winning Shoppers in Turbulent Times," "Online Social Networking and Food: Is Anybody Out There?" "Sustainability: Human, Talent and Environmental," and "New Ways of Working Together: Merchandising and Sales Lead the Way."

At 11:30 a.m., Bob Livingston, author and industry practitioner, will discuss "How You DoWhat You Do," prior to a 12:30 p.m. luncheon. At 1:30 p.m. a presentation by Harold Lloyd, president, Harold Lloyd Presents, will explore the 11 qualities of genuine leaders in his talk "Am I the Leader I Need to Be?"

At 2 p.m., the closing speaker will be Michael Sansolo, president, Sansolo Solutions. He will offer a fresh perspective on the changing consumer, cooking, eating and competition in his talk "Winning and Leading in Tough Times." He will provide new views on these challenges and the opportunities they provide for those who act quickly.

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

The program is rooted in the late 1950s with the emergence of larger format supermarkets, when the need for a more educated workforce and management team became a concern within the food industry. An industry committee was formed to study the issue and the recommendation was that WMU establish a work-study program in distributive education for food distribution.

A permanent advisory committee from the industry was formed to assist the University in the implementation and operation of the newly established Food Distribution Program. The advisory committee was composed of food and related industry leaders who did much during these formative years to assist the University in establishing the program. The committee also assisted in determining appropriate work experiences and specialized classes.

The Food Distribution Program formally got underway in February 1959 with an enrollment of five students. From there, the program grew rapidly over the next three years to more than 80 students in 1963. Today, more than 100 students are enrolled in the program.

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

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

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400
www.wmich.edu/wmu/news