Peter Larkin, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association (NGA), spoke with Geoff Welch, The Shelby Report’s VP-Midwest, on March 25 during the 48th Annual Food Marketing Conference sponsored by Western Michigan University.
Speaking at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo, Mich., where the conference took place, Larkin told Welch that it was his second time to attend.
The caliber of the event, he said, is top-notch.
“I was very surprised the first time I came—the number of students, the level of the industry support is incredible. And it seems now, even just two years later, that they keep adding more elements into the program….Today we’re really having a lot of the industry folks, particularly on the advisory board, doing mentoring with the students who are here. Not necessarily interviewing them but mentoring them about when they’re ready to graduate what skill sets they need, what are the extracurricular things they need. In other words, one on one, we want to help you stay in this industry. It’s a fascinating event, extremely well supported, and quality.”
The WMU food marketing program is the kind of program he would be looking for if he were “young again.”
“Just about every one of the students in this class gets an internship, a meaningful internship, with a CPG company or retail or wholesale company. If I were going through school for the first time and I were interested in the food industry, this would be a destination.”
There actually are a number of good destinations for those interested in the food industry, Larking added, noting that NGA works with 19 universities that have “very good” food industry programs.
“The list is long, but I’m not as up close and personal with all of them as this one. Very, very impressed.”
In the featured photo at top is NGA’s Peter Larkin. (Find more conference photos here.)