California Grocers Explore Shifting Priorities at Annual Strategic Conference + Photos

In late September the California Grocers Association hosted the Golden State’s grocery industry for its annual convention in Palm Springs. The Strategic Conference is where California’s grocery community comes together to make lasting connections and get inspired. We hope all who attended came away from our event with stronger industry bonds and new business leads.

This year we uncovered the grocery industry’s shifting priorities and explored fresh solutions and emerging opportunities for businesses, with help from our inspiring lineup of speakers and moderators.

On Sunday afternoon in partnership with Navigator Lighthouse Foundation, CGA hosted its second Emerging Brands Pitch Contest, where up-and-coming CPG contestants made connections with retail leaders for a chance to grow their business in California. Our event officially opened with a thought-provoking presentation by chef and Social Impact Entrepreneur Mark Brand who inspired attendees with his journey to building business beyond the bottom line. The Opening Experience flowed right into a lively reception where attendees had the opportunity to make connections with top retail executives in attendance.

Monday morning rolled around, and CGA President Ron Fong, Chair Dennis Darling, and Headline of The Illuminators Greg Siegel took the stage for their opening remarks to reflect on the Association’s 125 year anniversary and longstanding partnership with The Illuminators. Afterwards, we were joined by state legislators Senator Rosalicie Ochoa Bough and Assemblymember Blanca Pacheco for a fireside chat with CGA Board Member Michel LeClerc on the latest legislative happenings and hot topics like retail theft. General Session Keynote speaker Rohit Bhargava taught the audience the top five habits of non-obvious thinkers to help you see opportunities that others miss, and practice resilience.

The rest of the day consisted hundreds of pre-scheduled business meetings, plus the Enterprise Risk Protection Executive Summit and the Independent Operators Forum, featuring IGA President John Ross. Attendees unwound from the day at the Illuminators hosted happy hour. Retail expert Michael Klein helped us kick off Tuesday morning with a presentation on keeping up with shifting consumer behaviors. Then, grocery veteran Tom Furphy joined Klein onstage for a fireside chat to give his take on digital, customer-centricity, and other disruptions. Busy business meetings resumed and our final conference speaker left the audience with plenty of laughs. Comedian and entrepreneur Dena Blizzard delivered her stand up routine with relatable tales of motherhood, entrepreneurship, and her own evolving relationship with the grocery store through different phases of her life.

With the Strategic Conference in the rear view, we hope you feel more connected than ever to California’s grocery community and equipped to take on shifting priorities and new opportunities on the horizon. To all of our speakers, sponsors, partners, and attendees, thank you for contributing to the success of this year’s conference. View photos from the event below.

Mark your calendars for next year’s Strategic Conference on September 29 — October 1, 2024 in Palm Springs!