Join us for three action-packed days that will have you networking, brainstorming, and connecting with peers across the broad spectrum of the California grocery industry. From innovative speaker presentations to stimulating breakout groups, productive private meetings to relaxed social events, the CGA conference is tailored to offer a rich array of opportunities for building long-term strategies and relationships.

  • 8:00 am –
    3:00 pm

    The Illuminators Golf Tournament

    What better way to spend Sunday morning than playing one of Palm Springs’ destination courses? Take a swing at one of the generous tee prizes and enjoy lunch, refreshments, and on-course contests, hosted by The Illuminators. All proceeds benefit The Illuminators Educational Foundation and Scholarship Program.

    8:00 am –
    7:00 pm

    Conference Registration

    Sponsored by Post Consumer Brands

    5:00 pm –
    6:00 pm

    Opening Session

    Featuring engaging speakers and fresh ideas, our opening session kicks off the conference and sets the tone for the two entertaining, thought-provoking days that follow.

    Crazy for Cupcakes: How Food Trends Impact the Way We Eat and the World Around Us
    In today’s interconnected world, food trends are popping up quicker, growing bigger, and having a greater impact on more of what we eat than ever before. In this talk, David Sax explores where these trends come from, how they grow, and what impact they have: on marketing, business, and the consumer. In doing so, he helps us not only understand why some foods become popular while others don’t, he reveals how the power of consumer behavior takes it way beyond just what we eat. From the cronut craze to the impact of social media on food to world-changing trends (coffee, anyone?), Sax opens our eyes to the economic and cultural impact of what’s on our plate and in our pantry.

    David Sax

    6:00 pm –
    8:00 pm

    Opening Night Reception

    The CGA Strategic Conference Opening Reception is the largest single gathering of the California grocery industry. It’s the ideal opportunity to catch up with colleagues, reconnect with familiar faces, and make new contacts. Delicious refreshments and entertainment add to the lively and welcoming atmosphere at this unrivalled networking event.

    8:00 pm -
    10:00 pm

    After Hours Social

    The networking doesn’t end there! Grab your new found friends and retire to the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel pool for a casual after-hours mixer.

  • 6:30 am –
    5:00 pm

    Conference Registration

    Sponsored by Post Consumer Brands

    6:30 am –
    8:00 am


    Hosted by The Illuminators

    7:00 am –
    8:30 am

    Whiteboard Sessions

    To the drawing board! These loose, intimate sessions are designed to get creativity flowing in two energizing 45-minute sessions facilitated by industry veterans. Taking full advantage of the CGA Strategic Conference’s diverse audience, these groups are organized by area of interest.

    1. Time to Fight the Ninja: Competing with Restaurants

      1)  Grocers are quite accomplished at competing against bricks (other retail channels) and are increasingly figuring out battle plans for dealing with clicks  (Amazon, etc.)

      2) However, the more stealthy competitor is Out of Home with QSR’s and recent “healthier” alternatives coming on fast to become 50% share of our expanding US stomachs.  

      3) This stealthy Ninja fights with different rules of engagement so we need new weapons. While Fresh Prepared Foods are stretching most grocers into being a mall food court, the initial read is that OOH continues to win.  Breakfast is the latest QSR win and it is hard to believe we will be stopping off BEFORE work to get an omelet at Kroger.  And until we allow on premise alcohol consumption (please, no in store Hooters), Safeway will not be getting the trips reserved for Applebees and their ilk.

      4)  Grocers have a partner in this fight. The CPG companies successfully market to the very consumers Grocers and MFG’s need to return to the Grocery store.  Your CPG vendors have been too long commanded to both innovate and lower prices, neither of which has lead to a resurgence of center store. Let them help market your store, and their products. Let’s truly collaborate and make the next Happy Meal a true Happy Meal…one that makes Grocers, CPG MFG’s, and our health providers smile.  Let’s focus on TOGETHER bringing shoppers back to grocery.

      If we do not win this fight, Retailers will be left with the center of store resembling Radio Shack, and also own a parking lot well suited for those Amazon drones we keep reading about.

      Let’s fight the Ninja, together.

      Bill Carmody

    2. Accelerating the ROI of Your Digital Investments

      With the convergence of omni-channel, retailers are discovering that the promise of online extends far beyond just e-commerce. While e-commerce share of grocery sales is at most 3%, a recent study found that 65% of total in-store sales will be directly influenced by digital by the end of 2015 – representing ~$2.2 Trillion! Consumers are now interacting with brands or products before arriving at the store (76%) and even looking for coupons in aisle (24%).

      As retailers increase their investments in digital assets such as online coupons, loyalty programs, and mobile platforms, knowing where to focus limited time and resources becomes ever more critical.

      Is digital just another channel or an integral component to traditional brick-and-mortar retail? How can the new digital reality be leveraged for a more personalized shopping experience? How can learnings and insights gained on digital be applied in brick and mortar? And can these enable retailers to better collaborate with their trading partners? 

      Join us to discuss these important questions and come away with actionable, timely insights around accelerating the ROI of your digital investments.

      Angee Walls

    3. Making Retail Dance: Employees Make the Difference

      Even with today’s technology advances, most shoppers still buy their goods within the four walls of a store and a company’s brand identity is a key factor in their buying decisions. Recently, however, satisfaction has been declining among brick-and-mortar shoppers. The challenge for retail organizations is clear: How do you improve performance in the brick-and-mortar environment and give your customer satisfaction a boost? How do you translate your external brand into an internal employment culture that attracts, engages and retains key talent?

      Ultimately, it’s your employees that shape the customer experience — from how well the store is organized to the efficiency of checkout. Employees can make the difference between a customer calling your shop their “go-to grocery store” or looking elsewhere for their shopping needs.

      In this Whiteboard Session, Towers Watson will discuss the three aspects of the employee experience that consistently predict store-level business results: passion for service, sustainable engagement and work-team organization. Engagement — the bond between employees and employer — is measured by employees’ buy-in to goals and objectives, pride in organizational membership and willingness to go the extra mile to support success. Additionally, companies must also address factors that enable and energize employees – creating excitement about coming to work and positioning them to succeed. Companies that score higher on these attributes have greater sales, less employee turnover and lower rates of absenteeism. All of which lead to happier customers.

      Come discuss ways to apply these findings to your company and instill a strong sense of sustainable engagement and passion for superior customer service in your employees.

      Michelle Seidel

      Catherine Hartmann

    4. Tapping Into the Value of Farmers Markets

      Farmers markets hold mass consumer appeal and thrive in thousands of communities across the U.S. The farmers market concept is structurally basic, yet difficult to reproduce, in whole or in part, on a commercial scale because they are self-contained, hyper-local, and constantly evolving with their community. What can retailers learn from these markets?

      Innovators in branding a retail experience, stores like Whole Foods and Starbucks and Target, have figured out how to turn the drudgery of a shopping trip into a sought-after experience that mirrors a community market experience in many ways. The next wave of innovation will come from the retailers who take that a step further, getting more local, tapping deeper into the communities they serve, and creating environments that entertain, educate, and allow shoppers to linger and enjoy their purchases.

      This group discussion will explore the complexities, benefits, challenges, and strategies retailers and brands can employ in creating a retail spaces that mirror the best aspects of a farmers market (while maintaining the consistency of experience, quality of merchandise, and overall shopping convenience your grocery shoppers expect from their store).

      Christopher Studach

    5. From Fresh to Frozen: Eating Trends and Center Store

      In recent times consumers have been gravitating toward the perimeter for more fresh vegetables, dairy, meat, and even prepared foods at the expense of frozen and shelf stable items. This panel discussion will address how retailers and manufacturers can come together to work through the following questions:

      As consumers use more fresh items, how can the center of the store show its relevance to consumers?

      What should marketers do now to prepare for Millennials as well as Gen Z as they mature?

      Can clean labeling play a role in making frozen seem “fresher?”

      Darren Seifer

    8:30 am –
    10:30 am

    Opening Remarks and Conference General Session

    CGA’s signature General Session program features addresses from CGA President & CEO Ronald Fong, CGA Board Chairman Joe Falvey and Illuminator Headlight Jim French. Their remarks will be followed by the conference general session presentation.

    Positive Leadership: Restoring a Culture of Confidence

    Confidence, trust and job satisfaction are at historic lows. When the economic collapse began, the world’s largest banks called in Shawn Achor to research how to restore confidence and forward progress. While many managers succumb to helplessness, with their teams and clients quickly following suit, Shawn researched those who maintained high levels of success and leadership during the challenge. He found that our brains create confidence based on the belief that our behavior matters to the outcome we desire. To develop this trust, we must create “wins” for our brain necessary to overcome learned helplessness and must train our brains for rational optimism. Based on the science of positive psychology and case studies of working with companies in the midst of an economic collapse, Shawn provides practical applications for raising the belief that individual behavior matters and helping leaders to keep teams motivated and engaged.

    Shawn Achor

    10:45 am –
    5:30 pm

    Pre-scheduled Business Meetings/Conference Exhibit Hall Open

    11:30 am –
    1:00 pm


    Hosted by The Illuminators

    1:00 pm –
    3:30 pm

    Independent Operators Forum

    New for 2015! The CGA Strategic Conference offers an expanded program that is specifically designed for independently owned grocers including a customized schedule of presentations from major manufacturers and group networking opportunities.

    The Independent Advantage
    For many decades, scale has been a predictor of success: the bigger you were, the more resources you could muster, and the more you could grow.  But tectonic shifts that have reshaped the landscape in terms of macroeconomics, demographics, and shopper behavior, have mitigated scale as a competitive advantage.  The playing field is much more level than it used to be.  Now, agility, proximity to shoppers, and brand authenticity are essential components of success.  The scales have been tipped in favor of smaller independent retailers who possess these capabilities.  Learn how to leverage your unique position in the marketplace in order to drive sustainable growth.

    Mike Paglia

    5:30 pm -
    7:30 pm

    Craft Brew Social & Illuminators’ Special Event

    Ales. Lagers. Porters. And Stouts. After a productive day of meetings, join your colleagues for taste of California’s craft brews followed by the always entertaining and unconventional, Illuminators’ “Special Event.”


    Pre-Arranged Sponsor/Retailer Dinners

  • 7:00 am –
    8:30 am


    Hosted by the Illuminators

    7:30 am –
    1:00 pm

    Conference Registration Hours

    Sponsored by Post Consumer Brands

    8:00 am –
    9:00 am

    Morning Super Session and Retail Spotlight

    Grab a morning coffee and join us for one of two Morning Super Sessions; A thought-provoking, in-depth presentations by recognized industry expert or the popular Retailer Spotlight presentation.

    Retailer Spotlight: Albertsons Companies, Inc.
    Albertsons is one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States, with both a strong local presence and national scale. We operate 2,200+ across 33 states and the District of Columbia under 18 well-known banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, ACME Markets, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions and Star Market and Carrs. Our leadership team of nine Executive Vice Presidents, 15 Senior Vice Presidents and 14 division Presidents have an average of almost 23, 32 and 24 years of service, respectively, with our company.

    Our mission is simple: we want to run really great stores and provide great customer service.

    Note: This session is open to supplier attendees only.

    Karl Schroeder

    Navigating the Disruption
    Never has the retail and shopper landscape been more turbulent than it is today.  Success will be a function of identifying the major shifts and currents that are fundamentally transforming the landscape, understanding how they impact your business, and developing an appropriate response.  Join Mike Paglia as he walks through Kantar Retail’s latest point of view on the key trends shaping the retail world, who is best positioned to thrive today, and how to capture your fair share of the growth.

    Mike Paglia

    9:00 am –
    11:30 am

    Pre-scheduled Business Meetings/Conference Exhibit Hall Open

    11:30 am –
    12:30 pm


    Hosted by The Illuminators

    12:30 pm -
    1:30 pm

    Keynote Luncheon

    After a delicious lunch provided by the Illuminators, get ready for bright ideas and bold strategy from one of the top minds in the game. Our keynote presentation combines perceptive analysis of the state of the industry with compelling new approaches that challenge convention.

    Food Industry Entrepreneurism

    California has established its reputation for being the center of many global innovations. Some of the largest, most respected and most disruptive companies are based in the Golden State. Innovations in technology (Apple), transportation (Uber), communications (Facebook), commerce (eBay) and just about everything else (Google) are being conceived of and getting their start here.

    But what about the food industry? Where is the most innovative thinking happening and where might things be headed for our industry’s critical issues?

    California’s entrepreneurs have begun to turn their attention to the food industry. Critical industry topics such as production, capacity, supply chain efficiency, sustainability, social media influence, on-line shopping and home delivery are reimagining and reinventing the culture of food.

    Join us for an eye-opening discussion with distinguished panel of food entrepreneurs to identify the new approaches that are being developed today that will influence our industry over the next ten years.

    Will Rosenzweig

    Kristin Groos Richmond

    Dror Sharon

    Nilam Ganenthiran

    1:30 pm –
    5:00 pm

    Pre-scheduled Business Meetings/Conference Exhibit Hall Open

    5:00 pm

    Event Concludes