SNAXPO Preview
By Ann Przybyla Wilkes
SFA VP of Communication
SNAXPO 2005 will be the ideal place for snack food executives from around the world to make great business contacts, attend excellent educational sessions and see the latest innovations in snack food manufacturing. The Snack Food Association’s annual convention and expo takes place March 12-15 in Hollywood, Fla., where the average high temperature at that time of year is in the low 80s (degrees Fahrenheit).
Located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood is a charming, seaside town that attracts people from around the world. SNAXPO attendees can play golf, sample international cuisine, stroll the beaches or swim to coral reefs when they are not on the expo floor or in one of the numerous outstanding educational sessions.
SNAXPO’s keynote speaker is Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the world’s largest business federation representing 3 million companies, associations, state and local chambers, and American Chambers of Commerce abroad. The Chamber’s newly expanded political program has supported, funded and helped elect pro-business candidates in close congressional races. These, and other Donohue initiatives, have led the Chamber to significant achievements such as major tax cuts, reforms in the legal system and election of fair judges.
Attendees at this session will learn about some of the key issues facing the business community, including the flood of frivolous lawsuits, burdensome taxes and regulations, and protectionist and isolationist measures that put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage. Donohue will outline the Chamber’s agenda for addressing these issues and creating a more business-friendly environment.
State of the Snack Food Industry
Keeping abreast of the trends that affect the snack food industry is critical to a company’s success. The search by consumers for healthier options in their eating habits has particularly challenged the snacking industry. Learn how consumer and market demands for new options are reshaping the snacking industry. SNAXPO attendees will hear about up-to-date snack food sales and consumer insights for the major snack food categories and how current trends are affecting industry performance.
Valerie Walker from Information Resources, Inc., will explain how the deluge of healthier product introductions has reconfigured retailers’ store merchandising strategies to include in-store healthy-food sections, consumer education and more.
Competing with Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart has forever changed the retail environment. In this session, snack food manufacturers can find out how those changes affect them. Michael Bergdahl was first introduced to doing business with Wal-Mart after he was recruited by Frito-Lay to assume a position in the company’s sales organization. He later worked in Bentonville, Ark., at the Wal-Mart headquarters, where he interacted directly with Sam Walton, who gave him the nickname, “Bird Dawg.”
Bergdahl recently completed a book about his experiences, titled “What I learned from Sam Walton: How to Compete and Thrive in a Wal-Mart World.” He wrote this book to help Wal-Mart’s domestic and international competitors compete, survive and thrive in the shadow of the retail giant. In this session, manufacturers and suppliers will gain competitive knowledge of the strategies and tactics necessary to succeed in a Wal-Mart world.
Retail Sessions
SNAXPO 2005 will include a number of educational sessions that will be offered several times. Four of these sessions will focus on retailing. Success in retail outlets also depends on leveraging the power of your brand in the market. Dr. John L. Stanton, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University, will outline how to take care of a brand to ensure that it maintains its value and grows over time. He will discuss topics ranging from defining a brand to leveraging the power of the brand in the market.
Snack food manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers all face the challenge of trying to reduce transportation and distribution costs while maintaining inventory levels. Hernan C. Vera, director of marketing, Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System, Inc., will provide guidance on achieving dramatic improvements in transportation and distribution, which ultimately drive profit, productivity and efficiency.
Another presentation on the supply chain will address the changes and improvements that are possible through the use of RFIDs. Eric Gabrielson, director of worldwide RFID solutions at IBM Pervasive/Wireless e-business Group, will provide an understanding of the key components required for success, and explain how to identify key areas of ROI. He will explain the technology so that attendees can begin to develop their own roadmap for success.
Attendees also will learn how to conduct efficient trade promotions. Paul Adams, president of Paul Adams & Associates, will use actual examples from at least four $250 million-plus companies in various parts of the United States, plus information from some vibrant single-store operators to provide examples of how to conduct more effective trade promotions and to gain the most from the money spent on promotions.  
Technical Sessions
Snack food manufacturers face two major types of labeling changes to take effect in January 2006, involving both food allergens and trans fat. In a SNAXPO session on food allergens and trans fat, Joseph A. Levitt, a partner at Hogan & Hartson LLP, and the former director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, will explain how to best prepare for these labeling changes.
The snack food industry has had to contend with acrylamide since 2002, when the Swedish National Food Administration and Stockholm University announced the finding of acrylamide in a number of food products. Dr. David Lineback, director of the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the University of Maryland, will provide an update on the current status of scientific research on acrylamide. He will include information on the results from epidemiological studies and toxicological investigations that are beginning to become available, and will discuss potential implications of the findings for public health.
A panel led by Monoj K. Gupta, president of MG Edible Oil Consulting International, will discuss new technologies in edible oils. Information presented will include details of oils that can replace trans fats in snack foods.
Plant Management Sessions
Could your plant withstand a security threat? William C. Schwartz, Ph.D, vice president of NSF International, will explain, in a straightforward manner, a practical approach to food security that includes ways to manage deliberate food safety contamination concerns.
Time is a scarce commodity and efficient time management can save companies money. Steve Cavanaugh, director of information technology at Printpack Inc., will offer tips, techniques and technology that can help managers make the most of their time.
Nutrition and Health Session
Although high protein diets have reached their peak, their influence on food purchases remain strong. A panel of nutritionists will evaluate the low-carb phenomenon as an answer to obesity and discuss the regulatory framework for labeling and claims. Members of the panel are Lisa Katic, SFA nutrition consultant and president of K Consulting; Susan T. Borra, executive vice president of International Food Information Council; and Kari Hecker, Ph.D., corporate nutritionist at Frito-Lay, Inc.
Floridian Poolside Bash
A poolside reception with dinner will kick off SNAXPO 2005. The party will feature tastes and sounds of southern Florida. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit with old friends and make new ones while being entertained poolside. Different areas will feature steel drums, Jimmy Buffett-style music, Caribbean sounds, jazz, and Latin sounds. The Atlantic Ocean lies just beyond the Westin Diplomat Resort’s poolside terrace.
Chairman’s Reception and Gala
SNAXPO 2005 will conclude with the annual Chairman’s Reception and Gala. The evening will include a cocktail party under the stars, followed by dinner, entertainment and dancing. The entertainment and music for dancing will be provided by South Florida’s top-rated band, “Beth & Command Performance.” SFA’s chairman of the board, Nick Chilton, and his wife, Martha, will host this spectacular evening that will be one of the convention’s most memorable events.
Latin American Program
SNAXPO 2005 will feature the fifth annual Latin American program (Saturday, March 12) on the key issues affecting Latin American snack food companies. This year, Carlos Garcia, founder, president and CEO of Garcia Research, will present original research on Hispanic marketing trends; Dr. Alejandro Castillo of Texas A&M University will explain good manufacturing practices for corn-based snack products; and Jorge Carvajal of Heat and Control, Inc., will provide an update on potato chip batch frying.  Delia Altamirano of Sabritas (Frito-Lay) and president, CANACINTRA-Mexico City, has been invited, as well as a senior executive from Mexican retailer Soriana. If you do business in Latin American, then don’t miss this “once a year” opportunity to meet other snack food industry leaders and discuss the key issues affecting the Latin American snack food market. All sessions are in Spanish. For program information or to register, visit