Annual Food Marketing Conference to draw hundreds to Grand Rapids

Contact: Stacey Markin
Five panalists at the WMU Food Marketing Conference sit on chairs on a stage.

WMU's Food Marketing Conference offers more than 20 sessions on a variety of topics.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—More than 800 industry executives are expected to convene at Western Michigan University's annual Food Marketing Conference set for Tuesday and Wednesday, March 26 to 27, at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. The two-day conference will feature presentations on current trends in food and consumer package goods and will explore this year's conference theme, "An Industry in Transformation."

Registration is ongoing.

"This conference program is our strongest yet," says Dr. Frank Gambino, WMU professor of marketing and director of the conference. "Attendees will have their choice of many relevant sessions that apply to different facets of our industry, all of which highlight the significant transformation, challenges and opportunities we face."

Conference presentations

The conference offers more than 20 sessions on a variety of topics.

  • Industry veteran Michael Sansolo will lead a conference favorite, The Executive Forum, which will focus on the transformational revolution in the food marketing industry. Sansolo will moderate discussion on shifting consumer buying patterns, innovative workplace models, new marketplace dynamics, technology, disruptive business models and more with representatives from Amazon Prime, Shoprite, Smucker's, Meijer, the Kellogg Co. and Kroger.
  • Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP and best-selling author, will draw on his own experiences with gutsy career moves, empathetic sales strategies, incentives that yield exceptional team performance, and proof of the competitive advantages of optimism and hard work. His presentation will help listeners develop a blueprint for success, with the knowledge that it's the journey, not a pre-conceived destination, that drives that success.
  • Arthur Sevilla, CPG vertical strategy lead at Pinterest, will discuss how brands and retailers can break through the digital clutter in order to grow, focusing on how the digital shopping experience has become much more than just the transaction.
  • Yvonne Trupiano, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at SpartanNash, will share how best-in-class businesses need to develop an employment brand to attract top talent and consider the employee experience to build an award-winning culture. She will address how having five generations of employees within an organization—all with a different set of expectations of what a great place to work means—affects culture, hiring, engagement and retention.
  • Lauren Fitzgerald, partner at The Mom Complex, will discuss how mothers, who control 85 percent of all household purchases and $3.2 trillion in spending power, are underserved in terms of marketing. Seventy-five percent of mothers say marketers have no idea what it is like to be a mother. Fitzgerald shines a light on this disconnect and shares ways to bridge the gap.
  • Sessions will also address biometrics and facial recognition, artificial intelligence, analytics, strategic partnerships, customer experience, the growing cannabis industry, retail success, leadership and more.

About the conference

Now in its 54th 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.

More information about the event is available online or by calling the conference hotline at (269) 387-2132.

To arrange media coverage of the conference, contact Stacey Markin, director of marketing and communications for WMU's Haworth College of Business, at (269) 387-6936.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.