New class of food marketers tastes real-life

August 10, 2009

New class of food marketers tastes real-life

A unique collaboration within the food industry is helping to usher in the next class of food marketers. More than 2,200 food-marketing students and faculty at 18 universities that comprise the Food Industry University Coalition (FIUC) have digested lots of real-time food industry information in the 2008-2009 academic year.

Nearly 4,000 times in FIUC’s first year of operation, they accessed programming from the Student Learning Service (a National Grocers Association affiliate group which Kraft sponsors), via several vehicles of the non-profit Food Institute. They were able to view the Institute’s website, its weekly analytical Food Institute Report, and its daily e-newsletter, Today in Food, through their schools’ computer systems.

According to parties involved, the collective information available gave this up-and-coming class “exposure to real life in the food industry…[which] students could get nowhere else.” It also provided a rich basis for reports, papers, assignments, discussions, debates and presentations. NGA executive vice president Frank DiPasquale said the FI materials give students “the most comprehensive information source on the food industry available today.”

Enhancements to the SLS programming are expected to expand usage in this coming academic year - for example, a webinar by the Willard Bishop consultancy on The Future of Food Retailing due to air September 24.

The Status Report on the SLS indicated that about 43% of first-year log-ins was attributable to the 18% of users who accessed the service several times each.

This looks to us at to be the kind of program that will gain traction as it becomes better known. It happens too rarely in America that classroom learning is successfully bridged to real-life industry experiences. If this collaboration continues, the industry payoff will occur in the long-term when its future leaders mature at earlier ages because of these initial connections that help foster understanding of a complex field.