More than 280 individuals were in attendance for the third annual “Innovation Summit,” presented by Niagara University’s Food Marketing Center of Excellence. The event, which was held at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, N.Y., took place Thursday, May 2.

The event was put together by the Food Marketing Center of Excellence (FMCOE) Industry Advisory Board, made up of key retailers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers on behalf the Niagara University food marketing program. The program, now in its third year, has been drawing students interested in a career in the food industry.

“Once again we are extremely proud to be able to host an event like this, and bring top level industry executives from across the country,” said Bill Chiodo, executive vice president of grocery sales for Acosta and chair of the FMCOE advisory board. “Our early feedback from attendees was that each session was insightful and engaging, and the panel discussion with C-suite executives offered attendees with insight into the future of our ever-growing industry.”

The Innovation Summit brought together an “all-star” panel discussion, with leaders from the top retail and manufacturing companies in the country, including Frank Curci, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Tops Markets; Kurt Schertle, Chief Operating Officer, Weis Markets; Jim Dorey, President, Price Rite Marketplace; Ian Prisuta, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Strategy and Innovation HUB, Giant Eagle, Inc.; and Mike DeCory, Vice President of Grocery, Dairy, Frozen, Wegmans Food Markets. The lively panel discussion also included engaging audience participation.

Preceding the panel discussion were presentations from key industry experts which focused on the following topics:

  • Jack Li from Datassential discussed today’s customer who is seeking a personalized experience – and how to deliver that experience through data-driven operations.
  • Jason Smith, Managing Director USA, Shopper Intelligence presented “Shopper Led Decision Making,” and focused on understanding how/why shoppers do what they do – and why that is more important than ever.
  • Neil Stern, Senior Partner, McMillanDoolittle outlined the rapidly changing retail environment in his presentation “How to Maintain Relevancy and Positioning for Growth in a Changing Retail Landscape.”

These leaders provided unique and cutting-edge perspectives for growth and leadership. Throughout the afternoon, event attendees were able to gain insight on trends and the challenges facing the industry. The experts provided a master blueprint of how to compete and win in today’s hypercompetitive environment.

To learn more about Niagara University’s food and CPG marketing program, please visit


This event was sponsored by the following corporate partners: Tops Friendly Markets, Rich Products, Wegmans Food Markets, Rosina Foods, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Perry’s Ice Cream, The Martin Group, Graeter’s Ice Cream, Far East Brokers, and Niagara Fresh Fruit Company.

Niagara University

Founded by the Vincentian community in 1856, Niagara University is a comprehensive institution, blending the best of a liberal arts and professional education, grounded in our values-based Catholic tradition. Its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, and Hospitality and Tourism Management offer programs at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral level.

As the first Vincentian university established in the United States, Niagara prepares students for personal and professional success while emphasizing service to the community in honor of St. Vincent de Paul. Niagara’s institutional commitment to service learning has led to its inclusion on the President’s Honor Roll for Community Service every year since its inception in 2006, and its recognition with the Carnegie Foundation’s Classification for Community Engagement.

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