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The World at My Fingertips

CIES' 53rd World Food Business Summit kicks off this afternoon, right here in the Big Apple, practically in SN’s backyard at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The show — exclusive to CIES members — has adopted for this year's theme: Ingredients for Success in Turbulent Times, and judging from its list of global speakers and delegates it’s sure to be seasoned with loads of international flavor.

Thinking of visitors who’ve endured exhaustive journeys from Germany, France, Spain, Japan, China and scores of other countries, I feel a little guilt and a lot of fortune, considering the quick subway ride or walk (weather permitting) that separates me from such a bounty of global knowledge.

Last year, 770 CEOs from 49 countries converged on far-away Munich for the show. And recent host cities: Shanghai, Paris, Budapest, Rome and Barcelona have been similarly out of my reach. But now all that separates me from international retail case studies is the $2 subway fare.

While my colleague Mark Hamstra will cover presentations by retail leaders Steve Burd, Jeff Noddle, Lee Scott and Justin King, I’m looking forward to hearing from CPGs—just days after the Food Marketing Institute held its Private Brands Summit at the Waldorf—about their competitive strategies. Brenda Barnes of Sara Lee and Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft are to focus on simplicity; David Mackay of Kellogg on agility; and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo on resilience.

I’m also hoping to get a taste of the Global Experience. That’s the name given to a handful of sessions that will focus on international retailers. Long Chen, chairman of Suguo Supermarket Company, Antonio Coto Gutierrez, CEO of Dia, Latin America and Simon Susman, CEO of Woolworths Ltd., from South Africa, will be presenting.

Stay tuned for coverage…