Conference returns to Kalamazoo, grows offerings

Contact: Stacey Anderson

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Western Michigan University Food Marketing Conference returns to Kalamazoo in 2023 and is bringing a new look and exciting new format. The conference, which on average attracts 800 industry professionals each year, has rebranded as the WMU Food Marketing and Supply Chain Conference, strategically collaborating with Western’s top-ranked supply chain management program for the event March 15 and 16 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center.

Throughout the conference, participants will have the opportunity to enjoy sessions in-person or online. The “live hybrid” format—and a new conference app—will encourage engagement and interaction. Participants in the hybrid environment will be able to ask questions of speakers in real-time, giving all conference attendees the opportunity to fully participate from anywhere in the world.

“Bringing the conference back home to our roots gives our food marketing and supply chain programs the ability to work with local community members to provide unique offerings to conference attendees,” says Dr. Russell Zwanka, associate professor of marketing and director of the conference. “With the addition of our supply chain management program to the conference planning, we are able to offer sessions focused on topics related to both areas, while also connecting the dots on the hottest topics in the food industry today.”

The conference is supported by a deep network of alumni. Both the Food Marketing Advisory Council and Supply Chain Advisory Council have helped organize the conference program, which features many Western graduates as speakers. An active corporate sponsorship program underwrites the cost of the conference and provides more than $100,000 in scholarships annually for food marketing students.

 Many of the featured speakers for the conference have been announced, including:

  • Steve Cahillane, chairman and CEO, Kellogg Company
  • Vivek Sankaran, CEO, Albertsons
  • Mike Doss, president and CEO of Graphic Packaging International
  • Justin Honaman, head of Worldwide Retail and CPG Go-to-Market, Amazon
  • Rick Keyes, president and CEO, Meijer
  • Phil Rosse, president, Mark Anthony Brands
  • Cynthia Herrera, CEO, Sun Bum
  • Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO, FMI—The Food Industry Association
  • Greg Ferrara, president and CEO, National Grocers Association

Local partnerships with Can-Do Kalamazoo, headed by Western graduate Lucy Dilley, and KVCC Culinary and KVCC ValleyHUB have resulted in “A Taste of Western Michigan,” a signature event that highlights opportunities to give back to organizations focused on food innovation, food insecurity and connecting local food producers to potential markets.

The new conference tagline “The Future Grows Here” references the true differentiator that the WMU Food Marketing and Supply Chain Conference provides—talented students who will one day be in the positions that many of the featured speakers in the conference hold today.

To attend or sponsor the conference, visit the conference website.

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