Insights for Industry Growth

AFFI’s 2019 Leadership Conference was a huge success with over 100 executive and food safety leaders from 60 companies coming together to network and share insights that will power the frozen food industry into the next year. We invite you to review the education that took place below and mark your calendars for the 2020 Leadership Conference in Tucson, AZ from November 9-11, 2020. 

Registration Note
 Registration for the 2020 edition of this event will open in late summer 2020. 


Sunday, November 3

8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Food Safety Working Group Meetings
Orchid Ballroom

Naples Grande Golf Club

4 – 5 p.m.
New Board Member Orientation

5:30 – 7 p.m.
Welcome Reception 
Palm Terrace Pool

Sponsor Dinners – Dine Arounds

Monday, November 4

8 a.m.
Continental Breakfast
Orchid Ballroom

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Opening Session – Frozen Food is Heating Up
Orchid Ballroom 2-4

Conagra Brands, Inc., is a leader in the frozen food industry that has evolved to changing consumer dynamics. Conagra Brands President and CEO Sean Connolly will discuss how millennials have been at the forefront of changing consumer purchasing behaviors with nutrition, flavor distinctiveness and authenticity becoming key attributes of their product portfolio. You won’t want to miss Connolly’s insights and his take on the role of the entire frozen food industry in the future success of the category.

Sean Connolly, CEO, Conagra Brands

9:30 – 9:45 a.m.
Networking Break

9:45 – 10:45 a.m.
Breakout Sessions

Orchid Ballroom 2-4

Alexa, living room lights on!” Our homes are going through a digital revolution that is now going deeper into the kitchen. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is helping consumers along the food journey by connecting them with information on how they meal plan, shop, prep and cook. Hear about the current consumer trends in meal preparation, kitchen appliances, and how we ensure frozen foods are part of the food journey in smart kitchens of the future.

Shawn Stover, GE Appliances 
Darren Seifer, The NPD Group 


Critical to AFFI’s strategic priority to advance food safety includes the implementation of AFFI’s best food safety practices. NSF International will provide an overview of the AFFI-NSF Equipment Hygienic Design Certification and Assessment Program and the pilot program to assist manufacturers apply AFFI’s best practices. In addition, Alchemy Systems will unveil the new line-worker training system they created in partnership with AFFI – “Listeria Stops Here.” 

Sarah Krol, Senior Global Managing Director, NSF International
Terry McGuire, Vice-President, Alchemy Systems (Intertek)

10:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Breakout Sessions

Orchid Ballroom 2-4

In the frozen food industry, companies are in need of capital for improvements in food safety, automation & transportation. These pressures are in addition to changing ingredient stacks and flavor preferences of consumers. Mergers & Acquisitions is one way to gain access to capital, especially at a time when third party equity investors are seeking new opportunities. What is the outlook for the frozen food industry? M&A practitioner, Karen Martin from BMO Capital Markets, will share her insights on consolidation happening today and into the future.

Karen Martin, Managing Director, BMO Capital Markets


Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, sensors, and other digital technologies can be utilized to more efficiently find and access information about unsafe foods. Learn how the transition to digital technologies can identify food contaminates across the supply chain to produce a safer food system. 

Larry Kohl, Vice-President of Quality Assurance, Retail Business Services
Patrick Quade, CEO & Founder,

Noon – 1:30 p.m.
Leadership Conference Luncheon – Creating a Food Safety Culture
Orchid Ballroom 2-4

All employees have a role in implementing a strong food safety culture that protects consumer health and brand reputation, yet it starts with the CEO. Understand from an industry expert the important aspects of creating an effective and durable food safety culture at your organization.

Spir Marinakis, Vice-President of Food Safety, Quality & Technical Services, Maple Leaf Foods

1:30 – 1:45 p.m.
Networking Break

1:45 – 3 p.m.
Breakout Sessions

Orchid Ballroom 2-4 (from 1:45 – 2:25 p.m.)

Common health goals include eating more fruits and vegetables and eating all foods in moderation. Learn how the public health community is partnering with academia and the food industry to encourage healthier eating habits and lifestyles and how the frozen food industry can take advantage of these initiatives to meet consumer demands and boost frozen food sales.

Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD, President & CEO, Produce for Better Health Foundation
Diane Ty, Executive Director, Coalition for Portion Balance

Orchid Ballroom 2-4 (from 2:30 – 3 p.m.)

Thanks to innovation and deeper understanding of DNA, scientists can make targeted genetic improvements to plants and animals to address some of society’s most urgent challenges including climate change, sustainability, hunger and improving health and wellness. All these benefits confer to fruits and vegetables intended to be frozen. But questions remain: How will gene editing be regulated and most importantly, will consumers accept gene editing technology?

David Fikes, VP Communications & Consumer Affairs, Food Marketing Institute

Banyan (from 1:45 – 3 p.m.)

NextGen technologies such as web-based information systems, cloud technologies, and other digital systems effectively integrate regulations, risk analysis, and documentation across the supply chain. Learn how these systems can be used to achieve key public health and food safety missions. 

Dr. Timothy Wei, Professor, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Tessa Pritts, Director of Digital Solutions, Merieux Nutrisciences
Diane Wetherington, CEO, iFoodDecisionSciences
Tim Bartlett, CEO, Radiant Industrial Solutions

3 – 4 p.m.
Thought Leadership Sessions

Orchid Ballroom

The term “leader” is constantly changing in meaning and the skills necessary to be a leader in the frozen food industry are changing from one generation to the next. Jeremy will share insights from his years of consulting with businesses, especially multi-generation family businesses. He will also provide an overview of AFFI’s new LIVE Series – a unique program designed to facilitate learning through group discussion, individual coaching and peer support.

Jeremy Lurey, CHIEFEXECoach


Hear from top food safety executives on how to manage food safety risks across the supply chain. Gain insights on how the food industry can utilize science and data-based decision making to drive food safety objectives with tools to ensure safe food year-round for consumers. 

Jorge Hernandez, Vice-President of Quality, The Wendy’s Company
Michael Roberson, Director of Corporate Quality Assurance, Publix

5:30 – 8:30 p.m. 
Reception, Dinner & Member of the Year Recognition
The Vista Ballroom 
Sponsored by: 

Tuesday, November 5

7:30 – 8 a.m.

8 – 9 a.m.
Closing Session – Future Demands on Sustainability for the Frozen Food Industry
Orchid Ballroom 2-4

AFFI’s Power of Frozen research showed that the core frozen food consumer seeks foods that are sustainably produced and packaged. Regulations, particularly at the state level, are creating mandates for CPG companies to recycle plastics. Is the frozen food industry and its supply chain ready to meet these demands? Learn about initiatives underway as well as obstacles and how the frozen food industry can work together to promote sustainable change.

Corey Rosenbusch, President & CEO, Global Cold Chain Alliance
Meghan Stasz, Vice President, Packaging & Sustainability, Grocery Manufacturers Association
Rick Loesel, Executive Vice President, Azane-Inc.

9:15 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
AFFI Board of Directors Meeting
Orchid Ballroom 3-4

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Happy Hour
Hotel Bar

Dinner on Your Own

Thank You to Our Sponsors


Naples Grande Beach Resort
475 Seagate Drive
Naples, Florida 34103

The room rate in our hotel block is $249/night plus tax. This special rate is available to attendees for dates before and after the conference as well. The resort features three pools, a private beach, and on-site golf, tennis and spa. The cut-off date to book rooms in the block is October 10, 2019