Annual Food Marketing Conference to draw hundreds to Grand Rapids

Contact: Cindy Wagner

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's acclaimed Food Marketing Conference is set for Monday and Tuesday, March 19-20, and is expected to draw up to 800 industry executives to DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.

The two-day conference will feature presentations on current trends in the food and consumer package goods industries and will explore this year's conference theme, "Retail Reinvention: Making the Customer Hero." Registration is ongoing at

Conference presentations

Wide photo of past conference attendees sitting at tables listening to a speaker..

A previous conference session

Four keynote presentations will be offered:

  • The conference keynote address will feature Fred Morganthall, an industry statesman with a 31-year career in the food and consumer package goods industry. He will provide a perspective on the challenges facing the retailing industry. Morganthall retired in 2017 as an executive vice president of retail operations at Kroger Co.
  •  Kevin Coupe, founder of, will discuss the challenges facing retailers and suppliers in 2018 in a talk titled "Retail Reinvention: The Innovation Imperative."
  • Retired Army Gen. Ann Dunwoody will speak on "A Higher Standard: Leadership Lessons from America's First Female Four-Star General." Her presentation is sponsored by the Network of Executive Women.
  • John Phillips, PepsiCo senior vice president of customer supply chain and global go-to-market, will discuss "Retail Reinvention: Bits and Bytes That Will Disrupt Your Supply Chain." This presentation earned the best presentation of the year by Supply Chain Digest.

The executive forum, a conference favorite, will be moderated by Michael Sansolo, retail food industry consultant, speaker and expert, and feature executives from IRI Global, Meijer, Nestle Waters, Wakefern Food and

Additional conference sessions will cover a multitude of topics, from the future of brick-and-mortar shopping and the millennial impact on the industry to cybersecurity, analytics and industry trends. A full line-up is available on the conference website.

About the conference

Now in its 53rd year, the WMU Food Marketing Conference brings leading industry experts from around the country to West Michigan to share the latest developments in the industry. The conference is a nonprofit event supporting scholarships and programs that provide unique educational experiences for WMU food marketing students.

For more information about the event, visit or call the conference hotline at (269) 387-2132.

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