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Industry execs highlight WMU Food Marketing Conference

March 21, 2011

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KALAMAZOO--Talks by a Feeding America executive and the chair of the Walt Disney Co. will highlight the Western Michigan University Food Marketing Conference, Monday and Tuesday, March 28-29, at the Radisson Plaza Hotel.

Vicki Escarra, president and chief executive officer of Feeding America, will share her thoughts on fighting hunger Monday evening, while John Pepper, chairman of the board for the Walt Disney Co., will give his views on leadership Tuesday morning.

The conference annually draws more than 400 food industry executives from around the nation to Kalamazoo. With the theme "Leading in a Time of Consumer and Economic Change," the 2011 conference kicks off at 4 p.m. Monday with James Russo, vice president of Global Consumer Insights at the Nielsen Co. His presentation and the follow-up executive forum at 4:30 p.m. will examine the consumer and the changing economy and other food industry issues. Moderated by Peter Larkin, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association, the panel will include Chris Brown, president of the Wholesale Division for Nash Finch; Frank Eckstein, executive vice president for Winn-Dixie Stores; Brian Haaraoja, senior vice president for Spartan Stores Inc.-VG's Food Center Inc.; Keith Olscamp, vice president of industry relations for Campbell Soup; and Stephanie Skyler, president and CEO for Chiefs Supermarkets.

Escarra will address Americans' struggles in today's economy, resulting in an increase in emergency food assistance. Through the work of Feeding America and more than 200 food banks, the network is helping millions of families not only survive through tough economic times, but thrive. Escarra will talk about the strategic partnerships and skillful planning that made it happen.

Pepper will share his views on "Leading in a Time of Major Change." Pepper has been in his current position since 2007 and is the former president, CEO and chairman of Procter & Gamble, where he had a 40-year career. Dubbed by Business Week as one of the top 25 managers of the year in a cover story, Pepper is said to be "a manager willing to listen to underlings."

Pepper is the author of "What Really Matters." In his book he suggests that a preparedness to alter perspective, rethink assumptions and change course is central to understanding customer needs and keeping costs under control while developing talent, organizing one's business and supporting the communities served.

Breakout Sessions
10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

  • "Driving Sales at the Store Shelf with a Successful Mobile Strategy"--Rich Tarrant, president and CEO, MyWebGrocer.
  • "The $7 Trillion Woman: The Female Shopper"--Michelle Adams, vice president, consumer insights, Pepsico.
  • "Creating Your Future While Focusing on Today's Business"--Paul Madura, consultant-endeavor management, retired H-E-B executive.
  • "Four Generations: One Workplace"--Cam Marsten, author, generational insights speaker.

Breakout Sessions
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

  • "Shopper Insights in the Digital World"--Adam Murphy, vice president, consumer research, the Nielsen Co.
  • "Strategic Change: Putting it all Together in Practice,"--Dianna Old, president and founder, Rae Group.
  • "Social Media: How Pop-Tarts Became Relevant to 2.6 Million Facebook Fans"--Dean Suarez-Starfeldt, senior vice president, director of strategic planning, Biggs│Gilmore
  • "Consumer Trends to Track in 2011"--Dr. David Hughes, emeritus professor of food marketing, Imperial College of London.

At 2 p.m. Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of the Grocery Division at Walmart Stores, will close the conference by looking ahead in his talk, "The Consumer Environment 2011."

The 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 CPG marketing scholarships and related program operations.

For more conference information, including cost and registration details, call the event hotline at (269) 387-2132 or visit wmich.edu/foodmarketing/fmc.

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Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400