What’s on the Menu for the Future? A Slice into Foodservice Trends and How We Should Prepare for Tomorrow’s Consumers’ Appetites

Ronnie L. De La Cruz

Friday, September 29th

11:20 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Location: Elliot/Drayton/Heyward

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The Foodservice Workshop presentation is available for download.

Mr. De La Cruz provides industry talks, consulting, expert witness, and training services for the breadth of the Fresh Produce supply and distribution channel through to retail and foodservice market segments. The hallmark of Mr. De La Cruz’ work is highly customized consulting targeted at a client’s specific needs and timelines. Mr. De La Cruz is also well known for his interactive and motivational speaking and training style geared at imparting “Real-world know-how” to his audience & trainees. He works with the full range of the supply channel from seed companies looking at bringing new varieties to market, to grower/shippers, wholesalers, retailers, and foodservice distributors on a range of issues from post-harvest technology, quality and handling, to sales and marketing restructure and strategies – all the way to consumers.

Areas Of Expertise:

Consulting – Mr. De La Cruz works with the full range of the supply channel from seed companies looking at bringing new varieties to market, to grower/shippers, wholesalers, retailers, and foodservice distributors on a range of issues from post-harvest technology, quality and handling, to sales and marketing restructure and strategies – all the way to consumers. Mr. De La Cruz works with companies in helping to assess new business venture opportunities and strategic business partnerships and acquisitions. He also guides companies with the development of long-term strategic plans, or in assisting in the implementation of new go-to-market strategies.

Expert Witness – Mr. De La Cruz provides expert witness testimony for cases involving fresh produce, or impacting the fresh produce or adjacent industries including service, technology, etc. providers. This includes expert opinions, review and comment on opposing counsel briefs, supplemental reports, motions to exclude testimony, preparation calls and meetings, deposition and trial testimony, as required by the case.

Training – Mr. De La Cruz provides extensive training to both U.S. and foreign grower/shipper organizations on product standardization, and sales and marketing techniques. Mr. De La Cruz also works with large retail chains in helping them capitalize on consumer trends and competitive differentiation strategies within their market areas. Mr. De La Cruz also provides training on the latest sales and merchandising techniques for the retail produce department, as well as shrink reduction strategies. Mr. De La Cruz also works extensively within the Foodservice sector, training Distributor sales reps on how to increase their fresh produce sales. Additionally, he works with Chain Restaurant groups, school foodservice and healthcare on proper purchasing, receiving and handling techniques to reduce fresh produce related shrink and increase the quality of produce served to their guests and students.

Workshop II: Panelists

Jacquelyn Chi is associate director for programs and special projects for the Strategic Initiatives Group at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). In this role, Jacquelyn supports program planning for the college’s annual thought leadership conferences and initiatives, and oversees the Appetites + Innovation National Leadership Collaborative for Retail Foodservice (A+I). Launched in 2015, A+I aims to advance culinary excellence, health and wellness, sustainability, and cultures of innovation in retail food service. Prior to joining the CIA, Jacquelyn earned her MA in International Communication from American University, where she researched food as a tool of public diplomacy, and the social construction of authenticity in foreign eating experiences. (Napa, CA) @jaxiecracks

Jeff Tant is the Corporate Produce Director for Performance Food Group and has 15 years of Broad Line Food Service Experience. His Food Service career began with US Foods, and for the past 4 years he has been with PFG. PFG has 35 Operating Companies (Distribution Centers), and Jeff works hand-in-hand with Produce Category Managers/Buyers/QA Teams to help them grow their Produce sales. He also gives sales calls, sales meetings, training seminars, and works with growers, shippers, suppliers, etc. Prior to the Food Service industry, Jeff spent 15 years in the Retail Grocery business; most of those years with Harris Teeter in many different store management positions. Jeff was born in Nashville, NC and still resides there today with his wife Tanya of 33 wonderful years.

Part of Yerecic Label’s third generation, Kristin Yerecic joined the family business in 2014 as the company’s Marketing Manager. As a proud Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism graduate focused on strategic communication, content marketing and business; Kristin mixes data with strategy to determine how the produce industry can best market their products on-pack. Kristin enjoys bringing marketing and millennial insights to produce associations and committees through media coverage, industry research and speaking opportunities. As a self-designated foodie, Kristin enjoys trying the latest culinary trends, with green smoothies, locally sourced and Build Your Own menus being some of her favorite hot trends currently.