The 2013 Food & Drug Conference launched a new era as attendees gathered in Las Vegas to learn about the latest changes in the industry.
Reflecting its newly expanded scope, the Dec. 16-17 event at Caesars Palace included presentations by authoritative personalities in such fields as competitive strategies, employee wages and health care, pharmaceutical drugs, e-commerce and social media marketing.
Conference participants also focused on personal transformation, with prominent speakers providing insights on public speaking and memory enhancement.
Director Ellen Anreder opened the conference by noting: “Some of the leading experts in the food and drug industries are here to help us ride the waves of change without getting swept over by them.”
She added: “Our ultimate task is to raise the standards of our industry for the benefit of all who participate in it — the men and women who work in the stores and those who supply the goods we sell, the customers who buy those goods in order to feed and care for their families, and the entrepreneurs, investors, executives and managers who ensure that our stores respond to the rapidly changing conditions of the marketplace.
“All of these groups need each other to succeed,” she continued. “All of these groups will benefit from higher standards across the board, from variety and freshness and purity to service and safety and fairness in compensation.”
Speakers at the 2013 Food & Drug Conference included:
A stage interview with Jeff Metzger, publisher of Food World and Food Trade News, where he described large-scale trends in the industry and offered advice on how grocery chains can compete with Walmart and other big-box retailers;
Shawn Lovering, vice president of sales and development for Safeway Health, who discussed Safeway’s efforts to improve the health of its workers through better care delivered at a lower cost. She also described technologies health plan participants can use to monitor their health through a mobile phone application;
Mark Blum, executive director of America’s Agenda: Healthcare for All, who explained how employment-based coverage is leading the way toward transformation of the nation’s delivery of health care;
Jose Oliva of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, who described how some employers are improving their bottom line by “Taking the High Road” in employee compensation;
Darren LaCroix, a Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking, who shared his secrets for personal growth and the importance of “taking the first step” after falling. His inspiring story of wanting to become a standup comedian — despite not being funny — and how he ultimately became a motivational speaker resonated with the attendees. LaCroix also offered insights on making effective presentations in both small and larger groups;
Larry Innocent, president of Pharmacy Benefit Solutions, Inc., who described “Current Trends in Pharmaceutical Drugs and Their Impact on Our Industries”;
Michael Johnson, director of public policy for Blue Shield of California, who discussed “The Affordable Care Act and its Impact on Large and Small Companies”;
Craig Rosenblum, partner at Willard Bishop, a leading supermarket consulting firm, who described innovations transforming the grocery business. He shared a video of a grocery store in Japan that alerted customers of specials by installing three-dimensional signs at bus stops. When the sun struck the sign at lunchtime, its shadows revealed a code that could be scanned to reveal the specials; and
Ron White, a famed memory expert, trainer and author, who entertained the conference participants with impressive demonstrations of his skills. He memorized every attendee’s name and described the methods he used to remember more than 2,000 names of soldiers who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Director Anreder concluded the 2013 Food & Drug Conference with an inspiring call to action:
“Let’s never forget that we are privileged to be in a situation where we can serve others and help them achieve their potential as citizens and as human beings. Our lives will be measured by our ability to serve not only our colleagues and their families, but also the entirety of humanity. We are defined by what we do for them.”