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A record-setting 3,000 attendees converged this week at The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas for the National Grocer’s Association’s (NGA) 2014 conference and expo, which this year features a sold-out expanded expo floor housing pavilions in every category sector.
Noting that the independent grocery channel represents a “vital force” and accounts for nearly 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, NGA President and CEO Peter J. Larkin added that “this year's strong turnout of independent grocers and wholesalers, and those who support this industry, speaks to the value attendees see in the NGA Show.”
During the opening session, Larkin joined Wakefern’s Joe Sheridan and Rich Niemann, president/COO of Quincy, Ill.-based Niemann Foods, to discuss the ways in which independent grocers can compete in an increasingly competitive retail environment, particularly against big box heavy-hitters like Walmart. Noteworthy topics included evolving the brand to maintain market relevance, investing resources in talent development, and adapting to consumers’ changing behaviors and needs.
Following the panel, Larkin introduced famed Washington journalist and best-selling author Bob Woodward, whose keynote speech, “Presidential Leadership and the Price of Politics,” discussed the successes and failures of Presidential leadership and decision-making, the current political climate and its impact on the country’s economic future.
NGA’s first-ever pre-convention workshops, which took place prior to the opening session, offered attendees new meat merchandising ideas and tips to maximize produce sales. In the coming days, the show will also feature a variety of workshop sessions, focusing on key industry trends such as incorporating social media into marketing strategies; developing shopper loyalty programs; home delivery and curbside pickup; benefits of locally produced perishables; and tracking consumer buying habits.
The National Grocers Association (NGA) is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry.