Spartan Hosts Fresh Merchandising Show

Spartan Stores will host Michigan’s largest fresh merchandising show, A Fresh Experience 2010, at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids on Aug. 24-25.

The show is expected to quadruple in size over last year’s inaugural, with 160,000 square feet 235 vendors, nearly 200 booths and 1,300 attendees from throughout the United States and Canada.

A Fresh Experience 2010 combines the ultimate in attractive, state-of-the art food displays, including fresh dairy, deli, meat, seafood, bakery and floral products; taste testing; and on-site ordering capabilities via computer stations, with the added benefit of meeting vendors and getting firsthand knowledge of new product launches.

At the show’s entrance, Spartan Stores will host a 40-by-90-foot seafood booth with a trout pond, four chefs preparing a variety of fresh fish and seafood, a sushi bar and multiple ice displays packed with lobsters, crab, shrimp, scallops, oysters and several varieties of salt- and fresh-water fish.

“The grocery industry is exploding with new products, innovative and sustainable packaging, and merchandising strategies,” said Alan Hartline, Spartan Stores executive VP of merchandising and marketing. “Catering to consumers’ needs for convenience, value, nutrition and health, and sustainable business practices will be the key to successful growth in any competitive market and challenging environment. This is a destination food show on a very grand scale, and as a local business, we wanted to keep this show in Michigan for the convenience of the more than 350 independent retailers we serve throughout Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.”

Scott Ruth, VP of fresh merchandising, added: “The fresh perimeter is a major point of differentiation for today’s supermarkets. There are so many products available today to meet the needs of our consumers, from providing fresh beef throughout the day to having attractive displays of a variety of fresh breads, rolls and pastries when the consumer shops. It’s imperative that we offer fresh, quality products to satisfy our consumers."

A Fresh Experience 2010 will kick off with a Spartan Appreciation Dinner; keynote speaker will be football coaching icon Lou Holtz. Additional show highlights include the introduction of Spartan Stores’ Fresh Selections private label, expected to include more than 200 fresh bakery, deli, meat, and produce items by year end; 100 “Hot Deals” available only during the show on Aug. 25th; a cake-decorating contest featuring Spartan’s top pastry chefs; and contest giveaways.

All fresh merchandise displayed – more than 80,000 pounds of products – will be donated to Grand Rapids Feeding America for local and surrounding food banks.

“It was the most engaging food show that we have ever attended,” said Cargill’s John Field, one of six from his company who attended the 2009 show. “We had the opportunity to talk with so many of Spartan’s retailers. We couldn’t have been more impressed with the way the show was coordinated, the set up, the venue, all of it.”

Mike Reagan with Fresh Express added: “The show also presented an excellent opportunity to interact with retailers in one setting and what we took away was extremely beneficial to our business.”

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spartan Stores Inc. distributes more than 40,000 private brand and national brand products to approximately 365 independent grocery stores in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. Spartan Stores also owns and operates 97 retail supermarkets in Michigan, including Family Fare Supermarkets, Glen's Markets, D&W Fresh Markets, Felpausch Food Centers and VG's Food and Pharmacy.