ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Retailers are still struggling to find the right recipe for food-service programs.
James Riesenburger, chairman of the annual Supermarket Food Service Conference of the Food Marketing Institute and the National-American Wholesale Grocers' Association, said this year's event is aimed at helping retailers get the formula right.
The conference is slated for Sunday, Sept. 18, to Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the Hyatt Regency-Rochester. Riesenburger, director of deli operations for Wegmans Food Markets, said he believes food-service programs are essential to supermarkets positioning themselves for future competition. He added that they can be a "dramatic draw" to a store and can ultimately be profitable too.
"We're all out there competing for that disposable dollar and that food-service dollar," he said. "Food service is paramount. If you're not in food service in the supermarket industry in some way in the future, you're not going to be in business."
On the agenda for the first day of the conference are morning store tours of units of Wegmans and Buffalo-based Tops Markets, followed by an afternoon keynote address by Daniel Wegman, president of Wegmans. Then there's a two-hour session called "Managing Toward Excellence," which will provide profiles of three supermarket companies that have made a commitment to food service: D&W Food Centers, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Harris Teeter, Charlotte, N.C., and Sutton Place Gourmet, Washington. The two-hour session will be moderated by professors Jack Allen and Tom Pierson of Michigan State University.
On Monday, sessions include an idea-exchange breakfast followed by a session on government regulation and the food industry moderated by Dagmar Farr, vice president for consumer affairs for FMI. Panelists include attorney Steven Steinborn and Jane Andrews, a registered dietitian with Wegmans. John Farquhar, vice president of scientific and technical services for FMI, will speak on food safety and sanitation, with special attention to the 1993 Food Code and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point programs.
Food courts are the focus of an afternoon session, to be moderated by Dan Raftery of Willard Bishop Consulting, Barrington, Ill. Speakers include Thomas Brewer, vice president of deli-bakery for Price Chopper Supermarkets, Schenectady, N.Y., and Buck Jones, president of Jonesco Enterprises, Dallas.
The distributor-retailer relationship is the topic of another panel discussion, which will feature panelists Tim Fink, food-service director at Broadbeck Enterprises, Platteville, Wis.; Joe Marone, senior vice president of Sysco Corp., and Carroll Brown, corporate vice president for food service at Randall's Food Markets, Houston.
On Tuesday, Brian Salus, president of Salus & Associates, Midlothian, Va., a consulting firm, will present merchandising and marketing ideas from retailers around the country.
Further information on the conference is available by calling Tricia Lowney, education registrar at Food Marketing Institute, (202) 452-8444.