For four days, in the dead of a Minnesota winter, five other students and I were able to take a trip to Las Vegas, NV for the 2012 National Grocer's Association show. This sector of industry was completely new, especially for myself being a public health nutrition graduate student. My research is about nutrition labeling and how labels influence purchasing decisions of various types of food (ie. healthy/unhealthy) and figured this is related to the grocery industry. After browsing around the NGA website and doing research about this field and the show, I was certain there would be plenty for the other students and I to learn.
The convention started out with the university student case competition. A fellow U of M graduate student and I were able to watch the presentations of Minnesota as well as the other schools. It was interesting to see how each team interpreted the scenarios and questions presented for the competition. The trade show booths were quite a spectacle to see. Vendors were selling pretty much anything and everything that was related to grocery stores, from produce misters and grocery carts to deli slicers and custom made reusable shopping bags. It was nice to see some local companies there, too - Kemp's dairy and Malt-O-Meal! There was even a booth about nutrition labeling and nutrition scoring for foods. The booth was for the NuVal food scoring system which gives a health score for food products. I am using similar food scoring system for my masters project so it was especially nice to visit with them.
The entire experience from participating in the 2012 NGA show was fantastic. I learned so much and met numerous fantastic people. I've gained a perspective on the food and grocery industry that I wouldn't have achieved otherwise. I'm very grateful for the experience and hope other students are able to have the same opportunities. Furthermore, I'd like to thank our advisers for the trip, Lisa Jore and Professor Boland, and the sponsoring members of The Food Industry Center.