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March 2013 Archives

NGA 2013 Case Competition

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student pic.jpg thumb.jpgCompeting in the 2013 National Grocers Association Case Competition was an incredibly rewarding experience. Being a part of a team with diverse backgrounds, I not only learned a lot from working on the case but from three other talented women from the University of Minnesota as well.

We were asked to create a new marketing strategy to increase sales for Ray's and Chief's supermarkets located in Ohio. Throughout the preparation, with connections through The Food Industry Center, we were able to reach out to professors, advisors, industry leaders, and people working directly in the field to receive invaluable feedback allowing us to create a practical strategy that was relevant to the real word.

After only a few short months of practicing, presenting and preparing for the competition, arriving in Las Vegas in Mid-February was surreal. We spent every last minute up until our presentation practicing, rehearsing and perfecting our case. As the first team to compete, it was a huge sigh of relief after delivering our presentation. We were able to enjoy the rest of the conference without any headaches or stress.

One of my favorite experiences from the conference was being able to watch the other schools' presentations. I definitely took away a lot of skills and ideas that I will be able to implement into the future.

The rest of the conference was full of excitement. Dense Fung, a fellow teammate was a workshop moderator for an interesting perspective on social media in the current industry. We also spent a large amount of time meeting personal mentors and walking around a very large trade show where we were able to learn a vast amount about the retail food industry. New food products, old food products and innovative machinery were being displayed and sampled throughout the trade show. It was exhilarating being able to see industry leaders in one room talking about their different passions within the industry and seeing how they all align to create the incredible industry we are all so heavily dependent on.

Competing in the NGA case competition and being able to experience the conference was unforgettable. I was able to network with many industry professionals and students from across the nation while being able to immerse myself into an environment where people share my same passion for food.

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NGA Case Competition Reflection

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My interest in attending the National Grocers Association Convention started at the early age of 14 as a bagger at Lunds when I aspired to compete in the National Best Bagger Competition in Las Vegas. Fate had its own way of presenting an even more prestigious opportunity to attend the NGA Convention through the College Case Study Competition. I am proud to say that I was on the talented team of four women who competed in the 2013 competition.

I am not your typical student representing the Food Industry Center. I am a student at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications studying strategic communications with an advertising focus. I believe my background in marketing strategy gave our team an edge in the competition. The case we were faced with focused on increasing the market share through fulfilling the mission of Chief and Rays Supermarkets in Ohio. The company faced many challenges such as tough low price competitors and a diverse community of customers. It became clear throughout the competition that independent grocers are facing big box retailers who are heavily saturated in the market. There is an increasing need to differentiate themselves in order to stay relevant to the customer.

Through collaborating with executives at Supervalu and Lunds, professors, and our advisors, our team developed a three-part strategy based on two target markets. We saw opportunity in developing new signage, highlighting the signature products, and remodeling the produce department.

A valuable part of my experience at the competition was meeting industry professionals through the mentor program. My mentor Tony Ortega interviewed us just as much as we interviewed him. He believes in inspiring young people to become involved in the grocery industry because of the great sense of community. I had a chance to walk through the trade show booths to see the latest products and services being offered in the industry. This was an eye opening experience to how significant the food industry is to our economy.

This memorable experience is one I hope to share with others and in future job interviews to showcase my passion for the food industry. I hope to stay connected with all of the industry professionals I met through attending the NGA Case Competition. Teresa Chipps from Supervalu was especially supportive throughout the preparation and competition.

I would like to send a special thanks to Lisa Jore, who was key to our successful preparation and travel logistics. Furthermore, Dr. Boland provided excellent guidance in creating our strategy and presentation. His support throughout the competition gave us confidence in our work. Thank you for your dedication to our team.

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NGA Experience 2013

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Working with the University of Minnesota Food Industry Center and attending the National Grocers Association conference was a great opportunity. It allowed me to apply what I have learned from my economic, sales, and marketing classes to a real life case study. As one of the four members of the University of Minnesota team, I had a large role in creating an adaptive solution for Chief and Ray's grocery stores. During our preparation we collaborated with both Supervalu and Lunds to gain input and advice.
Once we arrived in Las Vegas we participated in multiple presentations on a range of food industry related topics from experts in their field. After attending presentations we were paired with a mentor. My mentor was Ron Cook who is the Vice President and Director of Marketing for Neimann Foods Incorporated. He shared a wealth of knowledge on how both the food industry and the National Grocers Association conference has change throughout the years. He also walked me through the showroom of the conference where we networked, learned about new trends, and sample produces from a range of national food companies.
Finally, we gave our case study presentation to a panel food industry judges. This including giving a fifteen minute presentation about our specific strategy to promote Chief and Ray's grocery store's mission and increase their market share. This allowed us to explain our research on food market trends, our cost analysis, and positive future impact we how to have on Chief and Ray's grocery stores. Overall this experience gave me a greater network and knowledge of the food industry that I will be able to apply to my future education and career.
Tory Ahmann

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Awesome Experience in NGA Convention 2013

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Being able to participate in the National Grocers Association (NGA) Annual Convention in Las Vegas had provided me a valuable experience that I could never get out of the classroom. This opportunity allowed me to work on real-life problems and interact with professionals in the food industry. This wonderful experience opened my eyes to the real world and prepared me for my career in the food retail industry.

I found my passion in food and agriculture when I started my Applied Economics bachelor program at the University of Minnesota. Having lived in a fast-paced and finance-focused city, Hong Kong, for 17 years, I thought that the only way to become successful in this competitive job market is to get into the finance, banking, and stock market. However, being able to study under College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and to work with Dr. Boland and Lisa Jore at The Food Industry Center as a research assistant, has changed my mind. As I learned more about agricultural and food science, I began to shift my interest toward the food industry.

This case competition gave me a chance to work in the real world and how to communicate with real professionals, which include those coming from the corporate offices and those who are working in the retail stores. In addition, I learned about how food companies work internally and how they attract potential customers to shop at their stores instead of big box retailers, such as Wal-Mart. I also had a chance to hear professionals talk about marketing strategies and skills.

The most that I have gained during the convention is the mentor program. I was able to team up with a professional, of SuperValu, that had more than 30 years of experience in the food industry, with the same specialty that I am focusing on at school. He taught me a lot of things behind the retail store, such as how lighting, cases, and space can influence the overall impression on customers. He taught me that, "Equipment and people are as important as the quality of the products".

Throughout my college life and my experience in NGA, I realized there is such a closely-tied connection within the food industry. I also realized that working in the food industry is not just about earning money, but providing consumers with safe-to-eat and sufficient supply of foods for their daily needs. At the end, I would like to thank Dr.Boland, Lisa Jore, SuperValu, and Lunds and Byerly's for giving assistance and valuable input to our team and making all these happen. I would encourage all students to apply for this competition and gain all these valuable experiences that I had!

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