Caito Foods Fresh Foods Conference Recap

Caito Foods Fresh Foods Conference Recap

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A Caito Foods Fresh Foods Conference Recap!


On Wednesday, September 26, and Thursday, September 27, about 400 of Caito Foods’ customers, vendors, and associates gathered in Indianapolis for the 2018 Caito Foods Fresh Foods Conference. This year’s theme was Courage – Triumph in a Changing World, and the Guest Speakers, displays, and new items offered all supported the view that success in today’s business climate will take a great deal of courage…and, of course, creativity!


The event began on Wednesday with opening remarks from Joe Himmelheber, outlining the different forms of “Courage” that are necessary to succeed. Using the wisdom of noted authors and teachers – Seth Godin, Simon Sinek and Jay Acunzo – Joe encouraged the audience to utilize five different kinds of “Courage” as they challenge a “changing world.”


The Courage to Serve. Referring frequently to Simon Sinek’s excellent book Leaders Eat Last!, the need for leaders to “serve” was emphasized. Sinek tells the story of how – in chow lines across the country – Marine officers always wait until those of lesser rank eat before they (the officers) get into the chow line. This policy is not listed in any handbook or code of conduct document, reports Sinek, but reflects the way the Marines view leadership: the willingness to serve, protect, and fight for those they have been empowered to lead. “Stand for people,” Simon Sinek says, “Not a product or service or metric or number. Stand for real, living, breathing people and we will change the world.”


The Courage to Stop. Using Seth Godin’s acclaimed book, The Dip, as its format, this section dealt with how to have the courage to quit a program, policy, or procedure when it fails to produce improvement or growth. Godin outlined that we need to have the courage, for instance, to leave a “Cul-de-Sac” (French for “dead end”) situation when it becomes obvious that our journey is in a constant circle with no gain.


The Courage to Change Course. Jay Acunzo, noted speaker and Unthinkable Media founder, served as inspiration for this form of courage. Acunzo relates the whimsical story of person who has been recruited by his friend – a zoo worker who feeds the animals – with the task of feeding the lions. Proper instructions are not given, so the “substitute” goes to the food building and sees lettuce and carrots, which he then feeds to the lions. Needless to say, the lions, who prefer lots of red meat, are not satisfied with eating salad. “Never feed salad to a lion” states Acunzo, and he uses this analogy to describe when, in business, you need to change course.


The Courage to Experiment. Our guests were summoned to the front of the Hall to “experiment” with tasting five items that, perhaps, they had never tried before. Each item was not only unique, but also represented a culinary trend that could impact us all.


The Courage to be Creative. Using a video showing workers who installed special musical steps on an airport stairway, the importance of finding creative ways for people (customers) to do mundane things was emphasized.   


Our Guest Speakers! This year we had six incredible Guest Speakers – beginning with four Industry “experts” who told about their companies, their products, and trends that will affect us all. Chef Gerry Ludwig (Gordon Food Service) spoke of a Vegetable-Centric dining style that is becoming ever more popular. Jenna Sullivan (SoGoodSoYou) spoke of new healthy-eating trends impacting Millennials and GenZ consumers. Hector Moran (Dole) showed everything about growing, handling and merchandising bananas. Raul Gallegos (Melissa’s) spoke of specialty produce and showed examples of how to better merchandise them at store level.


Joe Torrillo, retired Lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department, told his poignant story of being trapped under the rubble of both World Trade Center Twin Towers during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Torrillo was one-eighth of a mile away from the WTC when American Airlines Flight #11 struck the North Tower at 8:46am that fateful morning. And, seventeen minutes later, the second jet flew overhead and slammed into the South Tower. Joe Torrillo was severely injured as he found himself under both Towers as they eventually collapsed. His story of survival and patriotism was incredibly inspirational to everyone in the audience.


Phil Lempert, one of America’s leading consumer trend-watchers and analysts, is widely recognized on television, radio and in print. He has served as food trends editor and correspondent on NBC News’ Today show, reporting on consumer trends and showcasing new products. He is the founder of The Lempert Report and His presentation, “How the 2018 Food Trends are Changing Your Business”, gave a detailed and timely overview of how America’s eating and shopping continues to change. And, most importantly, how you as a merchant can adapt successfully to those changes.


The 2018 Caito Foods Fresh Foods Conference has past, but the information and ideas shared will be a critical part of many future go-to-market strategies. We thank all our valued customers who attended, our premier vendor-partners, and Caito Foods associates who took time from their busy schedules to embrace the “Courage” they need to face an ever-changing world! Happy Selling!      

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