Pictured: Ashley Decker, Baillie Latour, Bill Loftus, ’82, director of frozen retail sales for Seneca Foods Corp., Ann Tuohey, ’83, sales manager for Seneca Foods Corp., and Adam Krause.

Seven Niagara University marketing students were selected to attend the Private Label Manufacturing Association Trade Show, held Nov. 11-14, 2017, in Chicago. Niagara University was one of only 10 schools nationwide chosen to participate in the show as part of the PLMA’s university outreach program.

The students were introduced to the private label industry during classes that were held on the first two days of the show. On the third day, the students shadowed company executives in trade booths to experience the business from the manufacturers’ perspective. They spent their last day on the trade floor with executives from retailers including Seneca Foods, DeListra, Trilliant, Reynolds, Jet.com, Box-com, and Wegmans, during which they observed meetings and negotiations with manufacturers. They were also able to sample new products from around the world.

“I really enjoyed shadowing a retailer, because it was very hands on and we were able to sit in during meetings and truly see for ourselves how the industry works,” said Baillie Latour, a junior marketing major/communication studies minor from Rochester, N.Y. “Everyone was very welcoming and excited to see students take interest in this fascinating industry.”  

“Seeing how the retailers handled their clients and how the vendors did business with potential customers was the best take away,” agreed Kristofer Davis-Taylor, a senior marketing major from Albany. N.Y. “I got to see real business unfold and partnerships formed.” He noted that he was also able to network with high-level executives and learn from them first hand.

Both Latour and Davis-Taylor said that they were surprised when they saw how large the private label industry is, and all the different kinds of merchandise it includes. “I was blown away by the scale of it all and seeing how important the private label sector is to the food industry,” Davis-Taylor said.

“This was an exceptional educational experience that enabled our students to learn about the industry and its opportunities, and to network with a large number of manufacturers and retailers,” said Dr. Peggy Choong, professor of marketing, who initiated the opportunity with the assistance of Bill Loftus, ’82, director of frozen retail sales for Seneca Foods Corp. “These kinds of experiential opportunities are what sets our marketing students apart.”

Choong noted that several executives expressed interest in hiring the students, as well as in reading the papers they wrote in their Niagara University food marketing class.

Buyers from all major supermarkets, supercenters, drug chains, mass merchandisers, convenience stores, online retailers, importers, exporters, wholesaler, discounters, and military exchanges participate in the PLMA’s show each year to meet with manufacturers from companies around the world who produce food, snacks, beverages, household and kitchen products, health and beauty, and general merchandise. This year, more than 2,000 companies were represented. 

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