WMU's Food Marketing Conference celebrates 50th anniversary

Contact: Stacey Markin
Photo of people seated in an auditorium.

Hundreds attend the Food Marketing Conference each year.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University’s highly respected Food Marketing Conference will celebrate its 50th anniversary Monday and Tuesday, March 16 and 17, wiith a conference program that "rivals any in the history of the event," according to Dr. Frank Gambino, professor of marketing and director of the food and consumer package goods marketing program.

Photo of Al Carey.


The two-day conference will be held at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo and will feature presentations and sessions on current hot topics in the food and consumer package goods industries. Registration is ongoing at foodmarketingconference.com.

An industry standard, the conference annually attracts more than 600 industry leaders to the Kalamazoo area from across the United States. Continuing that tradition, this year's conference will feature Al Carey, chief executive officer of PepsiCo Americas Beverages, as a keynote speaker. Few business leaders have seen more than Carey who has had a 30-year career, spanning the industry across brands and through various functions. He became CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages in 2011 and will speak about his unique vantage point on leadership and the industry.

Conference presentations

  • Yolanda Conyers, bestselling author, speaker, and vice president of global human resources operations and chief diversity officer at Lenovo, will speak on "Managing Culture and Diversity to Drive New Business Growth."
  • Leslie Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of the Food Marketing Institute, will give a presentation titled "State of the Food Industry: What is Keeping Retailers Up at Night."
  • A conference favorite, the "Executive Forum" moderated by Paul Madura, former senior vice president and general manager, H-E-B Food-Drugs, features executives from Procter & Gamble, Jewel, Bi-Lo, Meijer, Kraft and J.M. Smucker and will address industry concerns on the economy, changing retail landscape, the consumer and technology.
  • Following the executive forum, Dr. Fred Johnson, founder and chief executive officer of InitiativeOne, will speak about "Developing the Next Generation of Leaders."

Following Carey’s Tuesday morning featured presentation, two executives from Emerge, Mark Dickinson, managing partner; and Perry Seelert, strategic partner; will present a mid-morning session on "Being Remarkable," followed by entrepreneur, chief executive officer, author and speaker Josh Linkner.

Ten breakout sessions on Tuesday cover topics such as reimagining the center store, marketing to millennials, promotions in the mobile age and the transforming shopper.

Dennis Eidson, president and chief executive officer of SpartanNash, will be the closing speaker following a luncheon on Tuesday.

About the conference

Now in its 50th year, the WMU Food Marketing Conference brings leading industry speakers from around the country to Kalamazoo to share the latest developments in the industry. The conference is a nonprofit event that supports scholarships and programs for unique educational experiences for WMU food marketing students.

For more information about the event, visit the conference website or call the conference hotline, (269) 387-2132. To arrange media coverage, contact Stacey Markin at (269) 387-6936.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.