Annual food marketing conference features industry leaders

Contact: Cindy Wagner
Photo of Phil .


KALAMAZOO—NBC's "Today" show supermarket guru, Phil Lempert, will join a list of top food industry professionals later this month as a featured speaker at this year’s Food Marketing Conference in downtown Kalamazoo.

The annual event, which draws more than 500 leaders in the food industry from across the nation to Kalamazoo each year, is Monday and Tuesday, March 25-26, at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. This year’s conference will explore “Moving the Metrics on Performance.”

Food Marketing Conference

Lempert will kick off the conference by sharing his perspective on the top 10 food trends for 2013 and outlining how consumers are changing shopping patterns based on the economy and changing demographics. An executive forum exploring these trends will follow Lempert’s presentation. This year’s executive forum includes the industry leaders:

  • Alan Hartline, executive vice president of merchandising, Spartan Stores
  • Janet Emerson, executive vice president of retail operations, Meijer
  • Tom Zatina, president, McLane Food Service
  • Jane Novak-Cook, vice president, customer business development, Food Channel, Procter & Gamble
  • Tim Dorgan, vice president and managing director, Peapod

Other industry leaders slated to speak at the conference include Erik Wahl, artist and motivational speaker, and Todd Harbaugh, chief operating officer, Sam’s Club. On Monday evening, Wahl will share insights on the rewards of risk taking, collaboration and thinking differently. Harbaugh closes the conference Tuesday with his discussion about successes at Sam’s Club and what changes lie ahead for the warehouse giant.

Other speakers include Thomas J. Sullivan, president, VideoMining, who will share the findings of an extensive shopper behavior study in his presentation "Reality TV Goes In-store: Tracking the Path-to-Purchase"; and Tom Furphy, president and CEO of Consumer Equity Partners, and Kevin Coupe, speaker, author and founder of, who will present "Competing for the E-Commerce Space," on Tuesday morning.

The conference also will offer a variety of breakout presentations from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, including the following:

  • "The Why Behind the Buy," Colin Stewart, senior vice president of Strategic Advisors, Acosta Sales and Marketing
  • "CobornsDelivers—An Online Grocery Shopping Solution," Andy Knoblaugh, senior vice president of sales and merchandising, Coborn’s Inc.
  • "From Sushi to Steak and Deli to Donuts ... Fresh Drives Sales," Bruce Axtman, president, Nielsen Perishables
  • "Business Ethics—A Sustainable Competitive Advantage," Emeka Nwankpa, director of ethics and compliance, Kellogg Company
  • "At the Frontline of Shopper Marketing," Dr. Marcel Zondag, assistant professor of marketing, Western Michigan University

A second breakout session, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, will feature a panel of food marketing experts:

  • "The Ever-Changing Consumer Market," Michael Steele, president and CEO, Advantage Communications
  • "Focusing on Retail Hot Buttons," Todd Hale Sr., vice president of consumer and shopper insights, Nielsen
  • "Shopping in the Age of Mobile," John Caron, vice president of marketing, Catalina Marketing
  • "The Retail Store as Theatre," Alfredo Muccino, chief creative officer, Liquid Agency
  • "Foodservice Sales Heats Up Store Sales and Growth," Don Symonds and Scott Berman, Lapari Foods

The WMU Annual Food Marketing Conference is presented by WMU's Food and Consumer Package Goods Marketing Program in the Haworth College of Business. Proceeds from the conference support food and consumer package goods marketing scholarships and related program operations.

For more information, including cost and registration details, visit or call the event hotline at (269) 387-2132.