FMI'S MEALS SOLUTIONS '98 PROGRAM SET FOR OCTOBER IN TAMPA

WASHINGTON -- The Food Marketing Institute's MealSolutions '98 program is jam-packed with educational seminars featuring retailers "who have been there."ar, conference organizers said.As featured speakers in sessions that cover everything from sourcing meals products to marketing them, supermarket executives will talk about their successes, failures and works in progress.They include officials from

WASHINGTON -- The Food Marketing Institute's MealSolutions '98 program is jam-packed with educational seminars featuring retailers "who have been there."

ar, conference organizers said.

As featured speakers in sessions that cover everything from sourcing meals products to marketing them, supermarket executives will talk about their successes, failures and works in progress.

They include officials from Ukrop's, Richmond, Va.; Hy-Vee, West De Moines, Iowa; D&W Food Centers, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Star Markets, Cambridge, Mass.; Big Y Foods, Springfield, Mass.; Roche Bros., Wellesley Hills, Mass.; Randall's Food Stores, Houston, Texas; Clemens Markets, Kulpsville, Pa.; Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y.; and Balls Food Stores, Kansas City, Kan.

A panel on "Investigating Sourcing Options" will explore issues such as costs, buyer specifications, drop sizes, food safety and standards of performance between the parties involved.

Another panel, which includes Hank Wolfson, director of prepared foods, Star Markets, Cambridge, Mass.; and Dan Lesko, senior vice president, merchandising, Big Y Foods, Springfield, Mo.; will zero in on case-ready products.

Retailers and manufacturers in that session will discuss how case-ready products -- such as prepackaged, chilled entrees and side dishes -- can fit into consumers' menu planning and how they can complement fare that is prepared in-store. Merchandising techniques will be discussed and retailers will talk about how to get associates to "take ownership" of such products.

Some of the other seminars will focus on menu development and managing shrink, successfully staffing a meals solutions program, and differentiating a store's meals program.

One session will focus on developing branded concept partnerships. Potential pitfalls and how to solve them will be explored in that session which includes panelists from Clemens Markets, Kulpsville, Pa.; AFC Sushi, Compton, Calif.; and Manhattan Bagel Co., Eatontown, N.J.

In other sessions, representatives of alternate formats such as Foodini's and Movenpick will take the podium.

In addition to a full three days of seminars and idea-exchange breakfasts, 230 companies will be exhibiting their products at this year's MealSolutions conference. That's up from 216 companies last year, according to Sherrie Rosenblatt, FMI spokeswoman.

Also, based on pre-registration figures, the MealSolutions '98 organizers expect approximately 4,000 attendees at this year's show and conference. That's up from 3,000 at last year's MealSolutions event in Los Angeles.