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PFMA Annual Conference Returns In Person, Highlighting Industry Trends

Andrea Karns, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Karns Foods, moderated a panel on digital and social media with speakers Sean Adams, Vice President, Marketing Communications and eCommerce, Utz Brands, Inc.; Chris Hartman, Director of Fuels, Forecourt, Advertising and Construction, Rutter’s; Jim Weber, President, Weber Advertising; and Robert Welsh, Director of Digital and E-commerce Marketing, The GIANT Company.

The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association 2021 Annual Conference returned to its in-person format for two days of sessions at the Gettysburg Hotel in June.  

Members, vendors and presenters gathered for the first time in 18 months, discussing a range of topics that highlighted sustainable practices, digital communication, tobacco and gaming. A virtual session with State House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton also covered the recently passed Pennsylvania budget and challenges faced by the food retail industry. 

“After more than a year of navigating trials brought on by the pandemic, it was great to get these industry leaders together in person once again and talk about the future of the food retail industry,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “The conference provides a valuable opportunity to network, brainstorm and plan for what’s ahead. Thank you to our members, presenters and vendors for sharing their insight and helping to make this year’s conference a success.”  

After a brief annual meeting, the conference kicked off Tuesday with a presentation by representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, covering environmental justice, climate action, food waste reduction and the GreenChill program. GreenChill is a voluntary partnership with food retailers that works to reduce refrigeration emissions and stores’ impact on the environment. Several PFMA members are GreenChill certified.  

Following EPA was a discussion on potential federal legislation that could impact the tobacco industry. 

On Tuesday evening, PFMA welcomed attendees for a reception at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Before dinner, PFMA honored Nicholas Bertram, president of The Giant Co., with its Food Industry Trailblazer award for his leadership and innovation in the food retail industry.  

During Wednesday’s breakfast, attendees spoke with Rep. McClinton via Zoom. The Minority Leader shared updates on the recently passed Pennsylvania budget and discussed a range of topics with members, including SNAP benefits, food deserts, pandemic mitigation efforts and more.  

The first panel on Wednesday covered the creativity and challenges of digital and social media, especially with the rapid shift to online services over the past 18 months. Representatives from PFMA members Utz Brands, Rutter’s, The Giant Co. and Weber Advertising and Marketing shared their experiences and expertise. Closing out the conference, a second panel discussed news an upcoming legislation in Pennsylvania’s convenience gaming industry.   

The PFMA 2021 Fall Legislative Conference is scheduled for Oct. 26 and 27 at the Hershey Country Club. Details are forthcoming.  

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Featured Photo PLMA Annual Private Label Trade Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Chicago, Illinois
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