AFFI’s Leadership Conference Provides Forum for Advancement

Inspire Innovation; build a food safety culture

By: AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor

Over 100 leaders from the frozen food and beverage industry recently gathered during AFFI’s Leadership Conference to understand and communicate the challenges and opportunities for doing business in an era of intense competition. Session speakers helped provide attendees with insights on the industry’s future trajectory and ways to advance the industry through best food safety practices and innovation. Here are some of the highlights:

Conagra Brands President and CEO Sean Connolly (pictured left) kicked off AFFI’s Leadership Conference with a positive outlook on frozen foods. Connolly corroborated the results of AFFI’s Power of Frozen research that shows the frozen food aisle is in the midst of a strong comeback, ringing up nearly $57 billion annually in retail sales. He shared how Conagra has made nutrition, flavor distinctiveness and authenticity key attributes of his company’s product portfolio. In closing, he encouraged attendees to continue to innovate their foods with creative tastes, contemporary designs and higher-quality ingredients to meet consumer demand. As Sean stated, innovation in each product leads to more profits not just for one company, but for the entire category, as that innovation drives more shoppers down the frozen food aisle.


That afternoon, Maple Leaf Foods Vice President of Food Safety, Quality and Technical Services Spir Marinakis (pictured right) shared how Maple Leaf responded during a listeriosis outbreak in 2008 and has since created a culture of food safety that drives decision making and profitability today. Their story was sobering and also inspiring. This food safety culture is one that we must also adopt in the frozen food industry and is part of AFFI’s number one strategic priority to advance food safety in the frozen supply chain.


With a positive outlook on the future of frozen foods and a renewed appreciation for the importance of a food safety culture, I was pleased that AFFI’s Leadership Conference attracted and engaged a diverse set of industry leaders. I hope more of you will plan to join us next year for AFFI’s 2020 Leadership Conference in Tucson, Ariz., on November 8-10.



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