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Food safety legislation awaits movement in Congress, and consumers have high-profile food product recalls fresh in their minds. Smart players in food retailing know the perishables segment offers the greatest sales and profit potential — but also the greatest challenges to successful execution. To that end, Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Retail Connections is gearing up to provide progressive grocers with a golden opportunity to sharpen their game plans at its Fresh Forum: Fresh Item Management & Merchandising Conference and Store Tours, on deck for April 14 through April 16, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio.
The Fresh Forum’s high-level expert presentations, pointed interactive workshops and networking opportunities will revolve around better execution throughout the fresh side of the store, especially in the areas of operations, food safety and merchandising. Those three disciplines are more deeply intertwined with fresh categories than anywhere else, and right now the stakes are higher than ever, both because of perishables’ profit potential and rising public concerns over the health and safety of fresh food offerings at retail and foodservice operations.
The focus of the Fresh Forum will be on retailer best practices, food safety and traceability, and people and technology. Agenda highlights include:
—Best practices in perishables operations, merchandising and marketing presented by Steve Dillard, VP corporate sales development at Associated Wholesale Grocers in Kansas City, Kan.
—Up-to-the-minute assessments of the regulatory climate from Leanne Skelton, chief of the Fresh Products Branch of USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, and Samir Assar, Director, FDA Produce Safety Division
—New research from strategic consulting firm Context Marketing on consumers’ concerns about food safety, including the fresh product quality claims that matter most to them, and what they expect from retailers and manufacturers
—Store tours of the San Antonio market’s best fresh food retailers, including HEB, Whole Foods and Fiesta Mart
Broader than industry gatherings that focus on single departments or disciplines, the RetailConnections Fresh Forum will bring together high-level executives from across organizational levels, all of whom have critical roles to play in perishables strategy and execution.