June 25-27, 2018 | Chicago, IL
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Covering all the newest trends in the better-for-you food category, SmartFood Expo™ features three days of expert-led education on the latest topics of interest to the food industry. From the latest trends in health, nutrition, and wellness, to new merchandising strategies, and from promotional strategies to marketing tactics, this robust educational offering will provide all the tools and industry-leading insight you need to make smart business decisions, cater to savvy shoppers, and sustain momentum in the better-for-you food movement.

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SmartFood learning opportunities start with a half-day conference on Monday before the trade show floor opens. The SmartFood Conference is designed specifically for today’s health-savvy food providers and creators.

During the SmartFood Expo show days, attendees and exhibitors will have the opportunity to learn both from experts and fellow attendees. Gain insight from the SmartFood Learning Center educational presentations and participate in small group discussions in the X-Change sessions without leaving the show floor!


Tuesday, June 26 | 11:00 am – 3:15 pm
McCormick Place Convention Center South Hall
SmartFood Learning Centers

  • 11:30 am – 12:15 pm Future of Protein
    Speaker:  Research Analyst, Euromonitor International

Where is the protein industry headed? What is the future of milk and meat in this changing world? How does the growing demand for nuts and grain – particularly whole grains – fit into protein consumption within the United States? Dig into these and other questions and explore key emerging trends for protein.

  • 12:30 pm – 1:15 pm Launching New Categories
    Speakers: Mason Arnold, Veggie Nerd, Cece’s™ Veggie Noodle Co. and Nick Desai, CEO, Snack it Forward

Learn from industry innovators who aren’t afraid to think outside the box! Hear from the hottest new food companies on how they are disrupting the food space with new categories and products.

  • 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm Drink Up! Healthy Beverages Innovations
    Speaker: Andy Dratt, Chief Commercial Officer, Imbibe

A cutting-edge beverage developer will highlight noteworthy and exciting emerging trends in beverages and provide practical ways to incorporate them.

  • 2:30 pm – 3:15 pm eCommerce Success Stories

Marketing X-Change Sessions

  • 11:00 am – 11:30 am Produce Packaging Design Challenges
    Speaker: Kim St George, Director of Sales & Marketing, Private Brands, Mann Packing Company

Whether it’s packaging materials, messages, or brand real estate, this session will allow attendees to have a dialogue on challenges and best practices for creating winning produce packaging designs.

  • Noon – 12:30 pm The ABCs of Selling in Schools
    Speaker: Alex DiNovo, President, DNO Produce

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to selling to schools. What types of products are schools looking for? What are some best practices to keep in mind when working with school foodservice buyers? You won’t want to miss this discussion if you work with schools.

  • 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm Produce Branding Best Practices
    Speaker: Missy McDill, Owner/President, McDill & Associates

With so many brands competing for consumer attention, share and learn best practices and success stories from brands who have found the brand recipe for winning consumers’ hearts and dollars.

  • 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm The Five Ws of Measuring Marketing Data
    Speaker: Megan Zweig, Vice President, DMA Solutions, Inc.

Measuring marketing analytics is a daunting task. It’s also where the real data lives. Join in the conversation about the five Ws of measuring marketing and gain insights on where to focus your energy for maximum, usable data mining.

Business Management X-Change Sessions

  • 11:00 am – 11:30 am Crisis Management: What Would You Do?
    Speaker: Amy Philpott, Vice President, Watson/ Green, LLC

How does social media fit into your crisis management plan? Share your stories and draw upon peers’ experiences for insights into how – and how not – to use social media during a crisis.

  • Noon – 12:30 pm Smooth Sailing: Preparing for and Navigating a Sale, Merger or Acquisition
    Speakers: Steve Grinstead, Chief Executive Officer, The Grinstead Group, and Julie Krivanek, President, Krivanek Consulting, Inc.

Preparing for, successfully negotiating, closing the sale and making a newly merged company work afterwards is something worth knowing how to do – even if your business is not thinking about it now. There are challenges before, during and after a transaction and valuable lessons to learn from those who have successfully guided dozens of produce companies through the process. Explore best practices and gain tips to minimize surprises along this journey of transition.

  • 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm Measure Brand Success: Know Your Equity
    Speaker: Gabriela D’Arrigo, Vice President of Marketing, D’Arrigo Bros. of New York

You may know on paper the assessed value, but the equity of your brand is intangible and in some cases is more valuable than the commodity itself. Share experiences on measuring and protecting your brand’s equity and discover how to start using it to your advantage.

  • 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm Leadership Journey: Growing Your Career in Produce

Take charge of your professional development! Learn from alumni of the Produce Industry Leadership Program about their career development experiences and gain insights for your own career next steps.


Wednesday, June 27 | 11:00 am – 3:15 pm
McCormick Place Convention Center South Hall 
SmartFood Learning Centers

  • 10:30 am – 11:15 am Forging Fruitful Partnerships: Successful Brand Collaborations

Hear how a well-known energy bar company works with athlete and partners meaningfully with events. Discover the unique role food plays in fueling communities of adventurers, marathoners, and everyday athletes.

  • 11:30 am – 12:15 pm Smart Food for All: A Healthier Future
    Speakers: Eric Frost, Founding Partner, Zeus Jones; Katie Iwanin, Strategist, Zeus Jones; and Rhonda Richardson, Nutrition Communication Manager, Nestlé U.S.A.

  • 12:30 pm – 1:15 pm Revolutionizing Store Design

The North American retail landscape is now in a state of flux with strong entries to the marketplace from online retailers, home delivery, and new players. How do traditional brick-and-mortar retailers design stores that deliver a WOW factor to customers and bring them back to their stores as loyal shoppers?

  • 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm Brand Love: Building Consumer Loyalty
    Speaker: Dan O’Connell, CEO, Foodmix

Learn how your brand can develop a culture of consumers who don’t just like your brand, but love your brand! Hear from a leader in brand marketing who will share practical tactics backed by recent data that you can apply to your own brand. Turn individuals with an affinity for your healthy brand into brand ambassadors who keep telling your story and spreading their love for your product!

Marketing X-Change Sessions

  • 11:00 am – 11:30 am Take a Bite: Ask The Foodservice Experts
    Speakers: Chef Daniel Asher, Executive Chef/Partner, River & Woods; Chef Mark Bedzik, Culinary Institute of Virginia Chef Faculty/Greenhouse Manager, Culinary Institute of Virginia, College of Culinary Arts at ECPI University; Brian Denton, Director of Marketing & Brand Development, PRO*ACT, LLC; Chef Graham Lockwood, Executive Chef, Fairmont Copley Plaza; Eric Goldstein, Chief Executive, School Support Services, New York City Department of Education; Chef Damon Mangano, Executive Chef/District Chef, ARAMARK, Hillcrest Hospital Cleveland Clinic; Chef Julie Pearson, Food Service Director – Anthem Richmond, Compass Food Group-Eurest; and Chef Michael Rypka, Founder, VP of Culinary and Marketing, Torchy’s Tacos

This is your chance to meet the winners of the 2018 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards and ask questions about what leading foodservice operators are looking for from their produce partners.

  • Noon – 12:30 pm Taking It To The Street: Guerrilla Marketing
    Speaker: Hilary Martin Long, Marketing Director, Frey Farms

Share stories of successes and failures that your brand has experienced with street team marketing. It’s not for everyone, but when done successfully, brands can see a huge ROI on their effort and investment.

  • 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm Analyzing Consumer Behavior for Maximum ROI
    Speaker: Matt Lally, Associate Director, Nielsen Fresh

What are consumers doing and why are they doing it? Discuss ways to discover the key KPIs hidden in the digital data collected throughout the supply chain. Rooted in market research from one of the leading fresh foods consumer research providers, discuss how to apply insights to improve the performance of your product.

  • 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm In Store Sampling: Will It Work For You?
    Speakers: Lee Esmond, Vice President – Integrated Marketing, Mosaic and Julie Hafercamp, Account Director, Mosaic

What does it take to run a successful in-store sampling program? Determine whether sampling is a good fit for your business, get a better sense of level of investment needed, and discover how growers and retailers partner to maximize success of sampling programs.

Business Management X-Change Sessions

  • 11:00 am – 11:30 am The Current Landscape of Immigration
    Speaker: Charles Wingard, Director of Field Operations, Walter P. Rawl & Sons
  • Noon – 12:30 pm Building Your Workforce: Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition
    Speaker: Nathan Stornetta, Executive Recruiter, Produce Careers, Inc.

Discover how to tell your company’s story in a compelling way, create an attractive benefits package, and recognize and retain top talent.

  • 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm Don’t Crash: Relief From IT Overload

If you ever feel like your waking hours are dictated by email, social media, and other technology, you’re not alone. Everyone is bombarded with information, professionally and personally. Discover practical strategies for setting limits and minimizing information overload.

  • 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm From The Hill: Produce Industry Government Relations Update
    Speakers: Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, United Fresh Produce Association, and Randy Russell, Partner, The Russell Group

For more information about 2018 SmartFood education, contact Amanda Griffin.