Last week, I was fortunate to attend the Specialty Food Association’s Business Summit, a two-day conference in Chicago featuring essential tips and best practices for how to grow a specialty food company. Over 150 food companies attended. Our firm was honored to be one of the sponsors for the event, as you can see from the photo of our table at the opening night reception below.
The conference featured discussions of the following topics by leaders in the specialty food space:
- Create a Strategic Plan for Growth
- Positioning Your Brand for Maximum Impact on Shelf and with Consumers
- Creating a Company Culture that Drives Growth and Accountability
- Coupons, Shippers and More: Shopper Marketing for Every Size Company
- How to Prepare Your Business for Investment or Sale
- Risk Management
- Digital Marketing
I particularly enjoyed hearing from food entrepreneurs such as the founder of SWEET LEAF, Clayton Christopher, and CEO of SLAWSA, Julie Busha, about why and how they succeeded (and the pitfalls they encountered along the way). The Risk Management Panel, led by moderator Chris Crocker of SFA, featured a lively and thoughtful discussion with my co-panelists, Doug Renfro of Renfro Foods and Pete Picetti of Heffernan Insurance Brokers, about the risks food businesses face every day, most notably, food-borne illness, product recall due to contamination or labeling issues, and third-party claims arising from branding or marketing. Together we discussed how, through well-drafted contracts (e.g. supply agreements, production agreements with co-packers, vendor and customer contracts), proper brand acquisition and enforcement, and appropriate insurance, food companies can mitigate risk. A photo of all of us is below.
Plenty of networking sessions, as well as small group dinners, allowed attendees to grow their contacts and share best practices and tips. We left with a treasure trove of information and some great tips, as well as new contacts. Check out more images from the conference here. I look forward to attending again in 2020!
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