More than 260 retail food executives from the across the country were in attendance at the second annual Innovation Summit, held April 19 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Buffalo, New York. The event was organized by the Food Marketing Center of Excellence (FMCOE) Industry Advisory Board, which is made up of key retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers, on behalf the Niagara University Food Marketing Program.
“This was an incredibly successful event, and we are extremely proud of the event and feedback we have received from attendees from across the country,” said Bill Chiodo, EVP of grocery sales for Acosta and chair of the FMCOE advisory board. “Each of the sessions were insightful and engaging, and the panel discussion was an all-star showcase of leaders sharing their vision for the future of our industry.”
The Innovation Summit brought together leaders from the top retail and manufacturing companies in the country, which included Kurt Schertle, COO, Weis Markets; Mike DeCory, SVP, Wegmans Food Markets; and Ian Prisuta, SVP, Giant Eagle; along with CPG veterans Larry White, VP of sales, Dole Foods; and Jamie McKeon, VP of marketing-Food Service Division, Rich Products.
Preceding the panel discussion were presentations from key industry experts Neil Stern, senior partner, McMillan Doolittle LLP; Mike Urness, founding partner of Seurat Capital and managing partner at The Seurat Group; and Kevin Coupe, Morningnewsbeat.com.
Some of the key takeaways included how to leverage omnichannels, e-commerce, data analytics, category transformation and fresh solutions to meet the needs of the rising Millennial and Gen-Z consumer. One of the most talked-about topics and one the entire panel agreed upon was the future need for a talented and focused workforce that would have the necessary skills needed in the challenging environment, as well as the importance for companies in the industry to have access to graduates from programs like the Niagara University’s Food and CPG Marketing program.
Major sponsors for this year’s event were Rich Products Corp., Tops Friendly Markets, Wegmans Food Markets, Acosta, Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., Perry’s Ice Cream and Rosina Food Products.