The 2013 Food Marketing Conference, hosted by Western Michigan University (WMU), took place March 25-26 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo, Mich. The conference included executives from companies like Kroger, Meijer and Sam’s Club.
In an interview, Phil Straniero, executive in residence in food and CPG marketing at Western Michigan University, said this year’s conference was the “largest we’ve ever had,” with more than 500 people in attendance. That’s a 9 percent increase from the 2012 conference.
Having been at WMU for 11 years, Straniero said the conference is “a wonderful way (for employers) to show their support for student education, especially food industry education.”
He works as both an instructor and executive in residence at WMU. He said his goal for the conference was to build awareness of WMU’s food education program and secure industry involvement.
The conference gives students a chance to meet with executives from big-name companies. Many WMU students also receive real-world internships, and that, coupled with WMU’s curriculum, attracts some employers to the conference to recruit students as interns or full-time employees, he said.
The school set up a mentoring program for the conference this year, Straniero told The Shelby Report, adding that the program should help transition students from the “academic world to the real world.”
“Our goal is actually to make Western the program of choice when people—whether they’re CPGs or retailers or wholesales—think about food education,” he said.
Speakers at the event included the executives from Kroger Michigan, Spartan Stores, Meijer and Sam’s Club. They tackled issues ranging from e-commerce to foodservice in grocery stores.