The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-headquartered National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) on November 14 posted record-breaking numbers for its 2017 convention. The October 7-10 gathering in Orlando, Florida, attracted 1,250 attendees, many of whom took part in an estimated 2,000 business appointments with leading retailers.
A record-setting 101 rooms were booked by retailers to hold customer business meetings. According to a survey of convention attendees, over half of the retailer delegates participated in more than 20 appointments lasting at least 30 minutes. In addition, the NFRA introduced a speed meeting concept to accommodate new members and smaller manufacturers who may have had difficulty getting appointments. Eight retailers set aside time for six-minute speed meetings with 50 manufacturers – more than half of them were new NFRA members – creating an additional 178 meeting slots.
From beginning to end, the convention was structured to help attendees make business connections. The opening Taste of Excellence Reception featured 52 manufacturers, including 12 new NFRA member companies, showcasing over 100 of their latest frozen and refrigerated food products.
The convention’s headline speaker was retired Chief Warrant Officer Four Michael J. Durant, who was the inspiration for the movie Black Hawk Down. The US Army helicopter pilot was serving with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) when he was shot down during an UN-sanctioned humanitarian aid mission in Somalia in 1993.
A second keynote speaker, Jason Dorsey, co-founder and Millennial and Gen Z researcher at The Center for Generational Kinetics, shared the latest research on how to market, engage and sell to the younger generation of shoppers.
At the general session, the NFRA unveiled its State of the Industry Report created in partnership with Nielsen. Todd Hale, Nielsen’s former senior vice president for consumer and shopper insights, provided highlights from the report and led a panel discussion with Noel Geoffroy, president-frozen foods for Kellogg Company, and Bob Knodle, vice president of sales at H.P. Hood.
The convention also served as a platform for recognizing NFRA leaders and award recipients. The annual membership luncheon included the induction of the trade association’s new officers and directors. John Farmer, sales director of Dairy Farmers of America, was elected as chairman of the board.
Golden Penguin and Patriot Awards
A networking reception recognized the 2017 Golden Penguin winners for the March Frozen Food Month, June Dairy Month and June/July Ice Cream & Novelties promotions.
Five companies were honored as Top Marketers for March Frozen Food Month: Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Council of Northern California, Cape Cod Select Premium Cranberries, Safeway Eastern Division, C&S Wholesale Grocers, and Co-Sales Company.
The four companies named Top Marketers for June Dairy Month were Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Council of Northern California, Land O’Lakes, Safeway Eastern Division, and C&S Wholesale Grocers.
Three companies named as Top Marketers for the Ice Cream & Novelties promotion were Graeter’s Ice Cream, Kroger and Associated Wholesale Grocers.
The convention closed with a luncheon hosted by NFRA’s new chairman that included the presentation Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer’s Retail Patriot Awards to three companies that have gone above and beyond the call of duty in support of the USA’s active and retired military and their families. Saluted were Bernatello’s Foods, Brookshire Grocery Company and C&S Wholesale Grocers.
The 2018 NFRA Convention is set for October 20-23 at the Marriott Marquis in San Diego, California. Registration for the event opens on March 1. For more information, visit NFRAConvention.org.