The retail food industry in the Carolinas is as robust as ever, as evidenced by the more than 1,200 grocers and allied members who came together, along with their families, for the 13th annual convention of the Carolinas Food Industry Council (CFIC). Joining CFIC this year were members of the Southeastern Frozen & Refrigerated Conference. From July 23-26, both groups enjoyed educational seminars, updates on industry trends and networking opportunities at the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort in South Carolina.
The conference brings hundreds of suppliers to meet with leaders from some of the Carolinas’ largest grocery chains, as well as independent grocers, to discuss new industry innovations in products and marketing. Attendees of this year’s convention were provided opportunities to sample new products through the CFIC Café and Sponsor Sample Sacks. Corporate sponsors once again donated product for breakfast, lunch and snacks at the CFIC Café, and attendee welcome bags were filled with a variety of products.
The convention kicked off July 23 with a family fun night featuring numerous children’s activities. Special guests for the evening included the newly crowned Miss North Carolina, Victoria Huggins, and Miss South Carolina Suzi Roberts.
During CFIC’s annual meeting, Mack McLamb, owner and operator of Carlie C’s IGA, was elected to serve as CFIC president for the 2017-18 term. McLamb follows Rod Antolock, president of Harris Teeter. At the president’s dinner, McLamb recognized Antolock for his leadership to the CFIC board and membership during his term as CFIC president.
Outstanding Supplier of the Year
Also at the dinner, Antolock announced CFIC’s 2017 Outstanding Supplier of the Year as McCormick & Co. This award recognizes the role of the council’s supplier companies and is based on criteria such as innovation, customer service and support for CFIC. The 2017 Outstanding Supplier of the Year award was accepted on behalf of McCormick by Tim Delea, customer business manager.
“It is a real honor to be named CFIC’s Outstanding Supplier of the Year and recognized as a leading manufacturer in the industry,” said Delea. “McCormick strives daily to bring the joy of flavor to life, and we are fortunate to have wonderful retail partners to help deliver our message to the consumer.”
Educational seminars and industry insight
CFIC says there was great turnout for the conference’s keynote speaker Karl Schoemer, author of several books and creator of “The New Reality” program after he spent years working with multiple organizations struggling with the speed and complexity of change. Schoemer addressed how, in today’s fast-paced global economy, attendees can seize the power of change and make it work—both as an individual and an organization—to find the competitive edge. He illustrated how change affects employees and employers every day, and offered guidance on how to move through the change process quickly and effectively. Each attendee received a copy of Karl’s “The New Reality” handbook.
An education program also was made available to retail attendees. Breakout sessions covered an array of topics. On July 24, representatives from both North and South Carolina’s WIC programs provided updates on each state’s transition to eWIC. On July 25, the first breakout session featured concurrent presentations from Duke Energy and USDA representatives on programs and grants available to facilitate energy savings in retail stores. They were followed by a session guiding grocers on how to ensure their businesses are properly insured in the event of a natural disaster. The morning breakout sessions closed with a representative of USDA FSIS division updating store owners on the new meat grinding logs. Participants had a discussion on how to maintain proper documentation to protect retailers in the event of an outbreak of a food-borne illness.
Presentations also were delivered on Tuesday by representatives of four of the larger chain stores represented: Food Lion President Meg Ham; Harris Teeter President Rod Antolock; Lowes Foods President Tim Lowe along with VP of Center Store Jason Ramsey; and MDI VP Nick Carlino and Director of Retail Brands Tom Sweeney. The presentations gave suppliers an opportunity to learn about new initiatives and each retailer’s areas of focus for the upcoming year.
2017-18 officers and board of directors elected
New CFIC officers and board members were elected during the convention. The new leadership for CFIC includes President Mack McLamb, Carlie C’s IGA; 1st VP Karen Fernald, Food Lion; 2nd VP Omar Jorge, Compare Foods; Treasurer Greg Adams, Piggly Wiggly; Chaplain Kenny Honeycutt, Piggly Wiggly Tarboro; and Ex Officio Rod Antolock, Harris Teeter.
Directors include Nick Carlino, Merchants Distributors Inc.; Mike Clawson, Lowes Foods; Greg Floyd, Piggly Wiggly; John Gillis, Piggly Wiggly; Robert Ingle II, Ingles Markets; Allen Jackson, Piggly Wiggly; Cliff Joyner, Joyner’s Supermarket; Steve Little, SpartanNash; John Owens, C&S Wholesale Grocers; Philip Payment, Floco Foods; Lou Sherman, Piggly Wiggly; Preston Taylor, Piggly Wiggly; William Wilder Jr., Piggly Wiggly; Lynn Willard, Lowcountry Grocers; and Shawn Yambor, Marcin Stores. Lindsey Kueffner serves as executive director.
A total of $100,000 in scholarships was awarded to 40 students from North and South Carolina during the convention. Each student will receive a $2,500 scholarship toward their tuition for the 2017 fall semester through CFIC’s charitable foundation, the Retail Consumer Alliance Foundation.
Forty scholarships are offered annually to high school and college students employed in the grocery industry or whose parents or spouse are employed in the industry.