WASHINGTON, DC — December 16, 2004 — Intense competition, tough economic conditions and changing consumer demographics are some of the issues that will be addressed by Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Senior Vice President Michael Sansolo during the closing session of the 2005 Annual Meat Conference. Sponsored by FMI and the American Meat Institute (AMI), the conference will be held March 6-8 in Orlando, Florida.

Sansolo’s presentation, “State of the Retail Food Industry,” will offer an overview of the industry and an analysis of key components — suppliers, distributors, consumers and the government. Sansolo will unveil new data and draw from a broad range of resources and opinions. He will then moderate a panel of meat industry experts to finish the program.

“The supermarket industry today may be experiencing one of the most unusual and challenging periods in its history, driven by dramatic changes in consumer attitudes, sales growth and company profits, as well as the issues facing the nation as a whole,” Sansolo stated. “Today’s businesses are taking a long, hard look at where they are and what they must do to succeed.”     

Sansolo’s presentation is just one of nearly 20 sessions that will be featured during the three-day conference. Other recently announced session topics and speakers include:

  • Current Diet Strategies and their Impact on Meat Marketing — Author and medical expert Johnny Bowden takes a look at diet trends and the ways in which the strategies are growing and changing, and discusses the latest scientific evidence on controlled carbohydrate eating and other diet trends.

  • Ethnic Marketing and Merchandising: New Insights on Creating Differentiation — How are ethnic consumers are re-writing the rules of the marketplace? David Morse, president and CEO, New American Dimensions, LTD, and Terry Soto, president & CEO, About Marketing Solutions, examines how ethnic consumers are re-shaping the nation's palate through the growing demand for ethnic foods. The session will spotlight best practices that supermarkets have successfully adopted to effectively capture the supermarket shopping dollars of Hispanic, Asian and African American customers.

  • Shrink: A Six Letter Word that’s Easier Said than Controlled — Controlling shrink continues to be a top concern in food retailing.   How do we define shrink by category? What’s the difference between good and bad shrink? What programs and technologies are available to help identify, measure, and control it? Mark Boyer, partner, PMG, LLC, discusses practical approaches, programs, and considerations to help control shrink with the impact of increasing profitability.

  • Nutrition as a Driver: Marketing and Labeling to the New Consumer — The focus on nutrition is back thanks to popular new diets, more healthful lifestyles and intense media coverage.   New nutrition labels on fresh meat and poultry will keep nutrition information in the spotlight. What are the valuable nutrients in meat and poultry that impact healthy living for the consumer?   How can these benefits be leveraged in the meat case? Dale Haze, President, Nutrition for the Future, Inc., takes a look.

  • There’s a Force in the Universe: RFID has Entered the Supply Chain — FMI’s Patrick Walsh and other industry technology experts provide a practical overview of RFID technology and the broader RFID spectrum – fundamentals, applications, capabilities, implementation approaches, and traceability options.

  • Understanding the Natural and Organic Niche — Natural and organic products are the fastest growing segment in food retailing. But how large is the demand and who are the major purchasers? Hear what products are available and selling and what other lifestyle trends are associated with purchasers. Leading experts in the retail, meat, and poultry industries will discuss trends in these product categories and the benefits of integrating these products into your conventional product mixes.

  • Bacon, Brats, and Bologna: The Processed Meats Sequel — Hear and see the merchandising, marketing, and case set programs that retailers are using to grow the business. Discussion will also focus on new product and packaging trends that can further increase sales. Retailers and suppliers will share their perspectives, experiences, and projections on this dynamic category that profitably addresses consumers’ demand for convenience, quality, value, and variety.

  • Satisfying and Growing the Heavy Meat User — William Bishop, Bishop Consulting, leads a discussion of the heavy meat user and attempts to understand what drives this customer and how to keep them satisfied. Speakers will provide specific demographic information and spending trends. Participants also will learn how to use frequent shoppers card data to compliment marketing plans.

  • Focus on Your Customer's Future — This special general session examines results from original focus group research conducted immediately prior to the 2005 Conference. Hear what panels of consumers have to say about the meat case. What are their product and packaging likes and dislikes? What keeps them coming back for more?

  • Hispanic Marketing: Understanding the Segment — As the industry works to better target products to diverse consumer groups, the Hispanic shopper continually represents a major opportunity and challenge for retailers and suppliers. A panel of industry experts discuss how retailers are capitalizing on the major trends and projections impacting this customer base and their purchasing decisions. Learn how companies plan to meet the current and future specialized needs of the Hispanic shopper.

  • Time for a Meat Case Makeover — How are food retailers building excitement in their meat departments to offset a growing consumer perception of a “sterile” meat case image? Learn what information and visuals consumers want to see on the package and point of sale. Learn how the meat case can provide confidence to consumers to try new products and eliminate the fear of unfamiliar cuts. Karen Boillot, director, retail marketing for the National Pork Board, and Art Yerecic, president, Yerecic Label, lead this “makeover” session addressing the opportunities available when excitement, a sense of theatre, and innovation is brought to the meat case.

Conference organizers previously announced that motivational speaker Larry Winget, president, WIN! Seminars, will kick off the conference with an opening keynote address.

In addition to the education program, the conference will feature a Product Tasting Reception, tours of Orlando-area retail centers, a Tech Fair luncheon and several networking events. For details, please visit the conference Web site at http://www.meatconference.com/.