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NGA Concludes Executive Conference, Public Policy Summit

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More than 200 independent grocery executives came away from the National Grocers Association’s three-day Executive Conference and Public Policy Summit with new insights and understanding about the economic and political impacts on the current business market.

The summit, designed to provide leaders of the independent grocery industry with insights and information to serve their communities, was held Oct. 24-26 at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C.

“Attendees enjoyed learning from top-level speakers from business and government and had the opportunity to strengthen relationships with trading partners,” said NGA Board Chairman Ted Balistreri, owner of Milwaukee-based Sendik’s Food Market.

“Retailers and suppliers discussed how they can more effectively work together in today’s market, which demands a higher degree of collaboration to better contend with today’s supply chain challenges, as well as plan for a successful future.”

General session content included a panel discussion on the state of independent grocery, offering retail, wholesale and CPG viewpoints on the health of independent community grocers in the current market, and the impact that the post-pandemic economy, inflation, supply chain and consumer habits are having on merchants.

Monday’s content explored how businesses can leverage the full potential of a multigenerational workforce, led by Myriam Vidalon, chief diversity, talent and culture officer at NielsenIQ, who also interviewed a panel of emerging leaders.

A highlight of the summit’s opening day was NGA’s 40th anniversary celebration, celebrating four decades of being at the heart of the independent supermarket industry. The evening featured a nod to the association’s past, honoring its founding members, and a look ahead to what the future holds for independent grocery operators and NGA.

Tuesday morning opened with a breakfast session led by Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections, and a political analyst who appears frequently in the news media.

General sessions followed, featuring an economic outlook by analysts from KMPG and a focus on food safety by attorney and national food safety expert Bill Marler.

The breakout sessions held Oct. 25 covered consumer shopping trends; shopper loyalty; and attracting and maintaining workforce talent. Additionally, industry suppliers and solution providers had multiple opportunities during the summit to hear from innovative independent retailers on their business objectives, growth strategies, and how trading partners can collaborate to meet the needs of their community.

The luncheon keynote speaker on Tuesday was renowned public policy analyst Bruce Mehlman, who provided summit attendees with insight into the shifting political landscape leading up to the 2022 midterm elections and the potential impact on businesses in the U.S. The afternoon brought networking opportunities and an NGA board of directors meeting, addressed by Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission and proponent of antitrust reform.

The third and final day of the summit began with an address on enhancing food access and sustaining grocery businesses by Xochitl Torres Small, undersecretary for rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A general session on unlocking new ways to grow food and beverage followed, presented by Mike Gervasio, vice president of category leadership at PepsiCo.

Breakout sessions focused on the future of nutrition incentives and how businesses can lead on sustainability.

Closing out the summit was a 2023 legislative outlook presented by Chris Jones, NGA SVP of government relations and counsel, followed by a final keynote session featuring a panel discussion led by Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO, that included his counterparts from the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and National Restaurant Association.

Attendees closed out their conference experience with meetings with government officials from agencies including the USDA and White House.

Additionally, leading into the summit on Oct. 23, was the inaugural meeting of the Women Grocers of America Executive Female Leadership Network. The EXFL meeting continued through Monday morning.

Administered by the NGA Foundation, EXFL is an exclusive forum for female executive leaders supporting the independent sector of the food retail industry, this meeting provided an interactive leadership development workshop, high-level analysis of key trends affecting the industry, and an exclusive members-only education and networking event.

Sponsors of the summit include BRdata, Dumac, Ecolab, The Food Partners, The Kellogg Co., Kraft Heinz, HappyOrNot, Navajo Inc., Nestle Purina PetCare, Recall InfoLink, ReposiTrak, Storewise, UNFI, Upside, Women Grocers of America, Clarion Events and The NGA Show.

More details about the summit, its sessions and speakers can be found at nationalgrocers.org/executive-conference.

For more association news from The Shelby Report, click here.

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