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    40th Annual Food Marketing Conference Kicks Off

    KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Supermarket executives from across the country are gathering at the Radisson Plaza Hotel here today as Western Michigan University's 40th Annual Food Marketing Conference gets under way.

    KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Supermarket executives from across the country are gathering at the Radisson Plaza Hotel here today as Western Michigan University's 40th Annual Food Marketing Conference gets under way.

    Speakers at this year's event include ACNielsen s.v.p. Todd Hale, who will present "Shopping for Food: The New Consumer," based on ACNielsen research that identifies the major shopper segments across retail channels, based on shopping behavior; consumer adviser Phil Lempert on "New Tools to Better Serve the Consumer"; and Food Marketing Institute s.v.p. Michael Sansolo on "America's Best Companies to Work For," among others. Larry Zigerelli, president and c.o.o. of Meijer, will share insights of the transformation that restructured Meijer's operations and is positioning the retailer to grow within a fierce retail sector.

    The conference is once again partnering with the Network of Executive Women to present up-and-coming trends related to diversity, leadership guidance, and business development at a luncheon today.

    Several workshops will be held tomorrow, featuring such speakers as Steve Dillard, v.p. of corporate sales at Associated Wholesale Grocers; Elizabeth Pivonka, president of the Produce for Better Health Foundation; and Alan Hartline, v.p. of center store merchandising at Spartan Stores, Inc.

    Last year the conference drew nearly 600 attendees, according to director Frank Gambino.

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