Four students in Niagara University’s food and consumer packaged goods marketing program were selected to attended the Private Label Manufacturing Association Trade Show, held Nov. 10-13 in Chicago. They were among 50 students nationwide who were chosen to attend the event, which attracted more than 1,500 exhibitors from 50 countries, representing packaged goods including cosmetics, skin care, and health and beauty brands.
Ryan DeCory, Amy Breslin, Shaun Carvalho, and Olivia Copeland were introduced to the private label industry during classes and through networking opportunities with industry executives. They also worked in exhibition booths to observe the discussions and negotiations exhibitors had with potential customers, and learned what products were trending in the marketplace and how buying decisions are made. Mentors included Giovanni Food Co. Inc., Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., Royal Paper, Topco Associates, Lidestri Food & Beverage, Wegmans, and Tops Supermarkets.
The students were also invited to the annual meeting of WISE (Women Impacting Store Excellence), a professional nonprofit development organization founded by women to support and champion diversity in the industry, and to become members of the group, which is open to both women and men.
“Students learned so much during those four days, networking with executives and learning about marketing and the industry,” said Dr. Peggy Choong, professor of marketing who developed the relationship with the PLMA. “These kinds of experiential opportunities are what will set our students in marketing apart.” She added that several executives expressed interest in employing the students.
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.
Niagara University’s food and CPG marketing program prepares students for the wide spectrum of careers that are offered in the industry. Foundational knowledge is complemented by opportunities to participate in industry case competitions, attend trade shows, obtain industry accreditations, and network at Food Marketing Center of Excellence events.
The branded-goods and food industry is one of the largest industries in the United States, comprising almost $2 trillion annually, or roughly 10 percent of gross domestic product, and employing more than 16.5 million people. It is estimated that $18 billion has been invested in new food products and solutions over the past three years. Western New York has the largest concentration of firms involved in food marketing in the United States, with more than 1,200 businesses actively engaged in this sector.