Speakers

Matthew Adams

Principal, Deloitte

Matt Adams is a Principal with Deloitte Consulting. He specializes in the retail sector, specifically supporting retailers with customer analytics and analytics-led transformations, including operating model transformation, digital marketing ecosystems, cloud adoption, process optimization, and strategic cost reduction. Matt also has extensive experience with growth and market entry, marketing strategy and personalization, and alignment of analytics and technology.

Adam Almond

Principal, Retail & Consumer Products, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Adam Almond is a principal in the US Retail and Consumer Products industry at Deloitte Consulting LLP. He has more than 20 years of industry and consulting experience. Almond’s experience has centered on driving growth and scale through digital transformation across marketing, merchandising, pricing, supply chain, and product management functions. He has led numerous project teams in the successful design and launch of new categories with customer-centric and sustainable business models. He possesses deep expertise in unlocking digital capabilities and new insights across the highly perishable “fresh” food value chain. Almond actively serves on the boards of industry groups such as Food Industry Association and International Fresh Produce Association.

Bill Artman

CEO, Giant Eagle

Bill Artman is CEO of Giant Eagle, Inc., one of the nation’s largest food, fuel, and pharmacy retailers with 470 retail locations, approximately 36,000 Team Members, and $11.4 billion in annual sales. 

Through his nearly 40 years of retail experience, Bill has built a vast understanding of the business and a trusted reputation for his leadership and integrity among Giant Eagle Team Members, guests, vendors and various business and community partners. He is known for his capabilities in business strategy, operations, retail innovation, supply chain, business expansion and growth, and guest and Team Member experience.  Bill is committed to making Giant Eagle, Giant Eagle Pharmacy, Market District, GetGo, and WetGo great places to work and shop, ensuring Giant Eagle remains a beloved household brand that maintains a strong connection to the communities in which it operations.  

Bill has held numerous leadership positions, most recently serving as President of Supermarkets, overseeing supply chain operations, retail innovation, real estate and construction, retail operations, merchandising, independent retailing/non-banner, and culinary operations. He continues to push the organization toward next generation technology solutions that will enable a differentiated guest experience in stores and online. 

James Cascone

Risk & Financial Advisory Partner, Deloitte

James Cascone leads Deloitte’s Sustainability, Climate & Equity (SC&E) strategic growth offering in the US for the consumer industry and also serves on Deloitte’s Global Council for Sustainability Alliances & Technology, delivering strategic insights to clients on how technology can enable sustainable development.

Cascone is also the Future of Food leader for the Americas region leading a cross-industry program that is transfor¬ming the food ecosystem by enhancing transparency, advancing a circular economy, and engineering climate-smart products that prioritize human sustainability and a nature-positive system. He has served clients in over 85 countries, is fluent in 3 languages, and is a member of the USCIB Environment Committee, Climate Change Working Group, and Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee.

Irving Fain

Founder and CEO, Bowery

Irving Fain leads Bowery, the largest vertical farming company in the U.S. designs and builds smart indoor environments to reimagine the future of food. Through its network and proprietary technology, Bowery is transforming the fresh food supply chain to be simpler, safer, and more sustainable. Bowery’s farms are 100x+ more productive than traditional agriculture while using a fraction of the resources, including 95% less water than field grown produce - all enabled by leading-edge technology. 

As the company continues to grow more with less, it has increased its retail footprint more than 26 times over between 2020 and 2024. Bowery has been in the market since 2016 and its produce is currently sold in more than 2,600 locations including Whole Foods, Amazon, and Walmart.

Bowery is backed by various leaders with $647M in equity and debt raised from investors including Fidelity, Temasek, GV, KKR, General Catalyst, GGV Capital, First Round Capital, Jeff Wilke, Tom Colicchio, José Andrés, and David Barber.

Fain began his career helping early-stage companies raise capital as an investment banker at Citigroup. Before founding Bowery, Fain was the co-founder and CEO of CrowdTwist, a loyalty marketing business that was acquired by Oracle. Also, Fain ran a division within Clear Channel Online focused on moving a large radio group into the digital age; he launched and ran iHeartRadio. 

Leo Feler

Chief Economist, Numerator

Leo Feler is the Chief Economist at Numerator and a Senior Economist and Professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. At Numerator, Dr. Feler is responsible for thought leadership on economics and consumer behavior and publishes monthly reports on consumer price inflation, retail sales, consumer sentiment, and the labor market. At UCLA, Dr. Feler teaches courses on business forecasting and entry into emerging markets and prepares quarterly US economic forecasts. Previously, Dr. Feler advised the US government and private sector companies on mergers and antitrust litigation. Dr. Feler has also taught at Johns Hopkins University and worked as a consultant with Boston Consulting Group and the World Bank. Dr. Feler holds a PhD in economics from Brown University and degrees in economics and international policy from Stanford University.

Oscar Gonzalez

Co-President, Northgate Gonzalez Market

Oscar Gonzalez is Co-President of Northgate Gonzalez Market, a family-owned supermarket chain that delivers authentic and fresh products to the Hispanic community in Southern California – and all foodies that love authentic Mexican food!  Northgate has grown from its one store humble beginnings in 1980 to forty one stores and over 6,000 associates in 2019.  The chain has opened four new Mercado stores – with an emphasis on fresh, prepared foods, and the excitement of an open air market!  The company has also been successful in the creation of related businesses – in real estate development and property management, financial services, and urgent care centers.

Oscar is a graduate of the Pepperdine University Executive MBA program.  He serves on the boards of FMI, the Western Association of Food Chains, and Homeboy Industries.  He has also served on the board of Unified Grocers, as well as being on the Coca Cola Retailing Council.  In addition, Oscar is active in the Young Presidents Organization.

In 2018 Oscar and family received the Robert B Wegman Award and The Stars & Stripes Good Scout Award in 2013.

Oscar lives in La Habra Heights, California with his wife Silvia and four children – Karla Teresa, Clarissa, Oscar Miguel, and Victoria Nicole. His personal life largely revolves around family activities associated with his immediate family.

 

Michael Hewett

Director of Environmental and Sustainability Programs, Publix Super Markets, Inc.

Michael Hewett has over thirty years of experience in environmental management, including regulatory compliance and sustainability programs.  Beginning his career with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Michael spent eight years developing rules and setting regulatory policy while partnering with the Federal EPA and various State and Local governments.  The balance of Michael’s career has been spent helping corporations build strong environmental compliance programs and sustainable business strategies.  Currently, Michael manages the  Environmental and Sustainability departments for Publix Super Markets, Inc. 

Michael has a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering and is a licensed Professional Engineer. 

Juri Ljaskin

VP, Supply Chain for SOK/Prisma Peremarket

Juri Ljaskin is a distinguished leader in the field of retail and supply chain management, currently serving as the Vice President of Supply Chain Management, Store Process Development, and Sustainability for SOK, the Finnish retail cooperative giant. Holding an Executive MBA and with over 16 years of experience in international retail, Juri has been instrumental in transforming supply chain processes, enhancing store operations, and promoting sustainability initiatives across various markets.

Leveraging his strategic-mindedness and comprehensive understanding of the complex retail landscape, Juri oversees a wide range of responsibilities at SOK. These include replenishment, logistics, centralized receiving units, space management, master data, store process development, workforce management, and sustainability for Prisma Peremarket AS. His efforts have been pivotal in streamlining operations and enhancing efficiency, all while ensuring sustainable business practices that positively impact the environment and society. Leading Prisma Peremarket AS in Estonia, Juri manages an annual revenue north of €200 million and a market share of approximately 6%, placing it in the top five in the region.

Juri's insights into sustainable development and his extensive experience in the retail sector, coupled with his passion for integrating people, processes, and technology into effective solutions, make him a valuable asset to any discussion on fresh food and supply chain innovation.

Jennifer Mackey

Senior Director of Sustainability North America, Bunzl Distribution NA

Jennifer Mackey leads sustainability at Bunzl North America, a custom distribution company helping customers in the grocery, foodservice and retail segments to run their businesses safely and sustainably with packaging, cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment. 

Customers are responding to consumer-driven trends and are increasingly requesting products which are more recyclable, reusable and climate friendly. The sustainability team provides them with expert advice relating to packaging trends and legislation, the data they need to report effectively and make informed decisions, and the solutions they need to meet their sustainability objectives. 

Jennifer holds a Ph.D. from Penn State with a dissertation on the topic of international corporate sustainability and an MBA in finance from University of Stirling-United Kingdom.  She currently serves on the Executive Committee for The Conference Board’s Sustainability Council for Growth and Innovation. 

Jonna Parker

Principal II, Fresh Foods Team Lead, Circana

Jonna has been an innovator in the fresh foods space for two decades driving the evolution of how the industry can use big data to unlock growth opportunities.  

She spearheaded development of Circana’s Integrated Fresh, the award-winning industry standard total food and beverage sales and shopper behavior. Jonna’s passion is to bring everything Circana can do to the Perimeter food/beverage departments in an accurate and affordable way. 

As a fresh foods market research expert, Jonna appears in consumer media such as CNN, NPR and SXSW and industry events such as IDDBA, International Fresh Produce Association and FMI Fresh Connect. In 2020 and 2023 she was named a “Top Woman in Grocery”. 

Sonia Punwani

Chief Marketing Officer, Cargill Protein North America

Sonia Punwani is the Chief Marketing Officer of Cargill’s North America Protein business, which is headquartered in Wichita, and services retail, foodservice and food manufacturing customers and feeds 90 million people around the world every day. Sonia and her team are responsible for marketing, innovation, category and customer analytics, consumer insights, and culinary across all proteins and channels.

Previously, Sonia was the Foodservice Marketing Director for Foodservice for Cargill’s North America Protein business. Sonia worked closely with the Cargill Foodservice sales leaders and Protein segment teams to drive profitable growth in the channel. She championed several capabilities across Marketing & Innovation, including the annual marketing planning process, marketing talent calibration and strategic innovation.

Sonia earlier served as the global commercial leader for bakery in Cargill’s Edible Oils business, leading the development of the 2025 global bakery strategy and playing a key role in the business transition to a more customer-driven model. She has also held a number of strategy, marketing, and operations leadership roles with General Mills, Post Consumer Brands and the Corporate Executive Board.

Sonia has a Bachelor of Arts (Economics and Psychology) from Georgetown University and a Master of Business Administration (Marketing) from the University of Virginia-Darden School of Business. Sonia was born and raised in Mumbai, India and now resides in Medina, Minnesota, with her husband Tarun and son Mikhail.

Leslie Sarasin

President and CEO, FMI

Leslie G. Sarasin is the president and chief executive officer of FMI, the food industry association, which represents more than 1,500 member companies in the United States and around the world. Under Sarasin's leadership, FMI has become a forward focused and member centered organization committed to help supermarkets excel in their role of feeding families and enriching lives. Her synergistic style and determined spirit of collaboration has infused FMI with a renewed commitment to help its members address the critical industry issues of the day - food safety and the emerging importance of health and wellness. Prior to coming to FMI, Sarasin was president and CEO of the American Frozen Food Institute.

Rick Stein

Vice President, Fresh Foods FMI

Rick Stein joined FMI in 2014, and is responsible for developing a portfolio of services and activities to assist members in formulating and executing their fresh food strategies.  These categories include everything from  – dairy, frozen, meat, poultry, seafood, and produce to service departments – deli, bakery and fresh prepared meals and related solutions for take-out or in-store dining.

Prior to joining FMI, Rick spent 35 + years in a wide range of retail grocery merchandising and marketing responsibilities.  Most recently Stein was the Vice President of retail marketing & merchandising execution for Safeway Stores, Inc.  Previously he held both divisional and corporate responsibilities in his tenure at Safeway in retail/store operations, category management, sales, marketing/merchandising, and strategy development. He has experience in virtually every facet of the retail food business and helped lead Safeway to achieve operational excellence and increased market share and revenues.Stein graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor of Arts in Behavioral and Social Sciences.  He has earned continuing educations credits in marketing, merchandising and management, most recently with the Disney Institute. Rick serves on numerous nonprofit boards such as the MDA, Children’s Cancer Foundation and Easter Seals of DC/VA/MD. 

Mike Stigers

President, Wakefern Food Corp.

Mike Stigers joined Wakefern Food Corp., the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States, on June 1, 2023, as its President. Mike brings with him five decades of food industry knowledge, having begun his career as a part-time courtesy clerk at Safeway in his home state of California.

Mike has a distinguished track record in both the retail and wholesale sides of the supermarket business, having held executive roles in both operations, merchandising, supply chain and fresh. Mike has experience on the vendor side having worked for BASS, Inc., a retail automation software company, and for Sterilox Fresh, a food safety company, as regional vice president.

Prior to joining Wakefern, Mike served as executive vice president of SuperValu’s Fresh division from 2019 to 2020 as well as being named CEO at Cub Foods. Cub Foods is a subsidiary of UNFI, the natural and organic food company headquartered in Rhode Island.

In 2011, Stigers joined SuperValu, as president of Shaw’s/Star Market grocery stores in New England. He went on to lead SUPERVALU’s northern wholesale region in Hopkins, MN in 2013, and was named president of CUB in March 2014. Two years later, he was promoted to executive vice president of SUPERVALU Wholesale and Supply Chain Services, serving three years in that role until SUPERVALU was purchased by UNFI in October 2018.