WMU Hosting Food Conference

March 24, 2003
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KALAMAZOO — Continued industry consolidation, the growing power of superstores, the sluggish economy and the impact of excessive cost-cutting measures will be among the topics at Western Michigan University’s 38th annual Food Marketing Conference.

The CEOs of Dean Foods Co. and the Food Marketing Institute, along with top executives from Save-A-Lot and SuperTarget Stores, will headline “An Industry in Transformation: What Lies Ahead” on Monday and Tuesday, March 31 and April 1, at WMU’s Bernhard Center.

More than 500 food industry executives from around the nation are expected at the conference, which opens with on-site registration at 4 p.m., March 31, and concludes the following day at 3 p.m.

“We’ve seen a tremendous shift in power among retailers over the past decade,” said conference coordinator Frank Gambino, associate professor of marketing and director of WMU’s Food Marketing Program. “Today, just five retailers control more than 42 percent of the food volume in the United States, whereas 10 years ago, we might have had 20 companies controlling that same percentage. The consolidation trend remains the single biggest issue in the industry.

“Further, we’re seeing the continued rise of supercenters that combine groceries with nonfood items common in mass retailers like Meijer, Wal-Mart and Target. As the economy remains sluggish, the industry has seen an increase in the popularity of value brands like private label and value retailers like Save-A-Lot and dollar stores,” he said.

For information or registration, call (269) 387-2132.  

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