What is UFIA and What Was Shared at the UFIA Conference?

Many store owners from members of Associated Food Stores and team members from Associated Retail Operations and AFS participated in the Utah Food Industry Association’s (UFIA) annual conference last week at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, Utah. 

As the conference began, Dave Davis, president and chief legal officer for UFIA, shared a story about his daughters. He said his teenage girls struggle to accurately describe what he does for a living. With the story as a foundation, Dave shared UFIA’s purpose statement which is as follows: “We advance and protect the interests of the companies that feed your communities.” With that purpose in mind, UFIA is a trade association representing Utah grocery and convenience stores and their wholesaler and supplier partners in state and national government. 

During the conference, new UFIA board members were named. The UFIA board is comprised of business owners and leaders from members of the association. Jonathan Badger, president of Lee’s Marketplace, has served as chairman of the UFIA board for the past year and was recognized for his service. Barry Bessey, general manager of Ream’s Food Stores, was named the chairman of the UFIA board for the coming year. 

The keynote speaker at the conference was Leon Nicholas. Nicholas is the vice president of retail insights and solutions for WestRock and shared ideas and recommendations based on current research and his experiences in 29 years in the consumer goods and retail industry. 

Nicholas talked about the importance of offering both convenience and differentiation in today’s competitive environment. He also addressed the value of retailers continuing to leverage technology to solve problems for consumers, citing ecommerce as one of many examples. 

The second session of the conference featured Robert Spendlove. Spendlove is a senior vice president and the economic and public policy officer for Zions Bank. He provided the large gathering with updates on the state of Utah’s economy and how stores can prepare for uncertainty as Utah’s economy continues to pivot. 

“Utah continues to emerge as the strongest state in the country,” said Spendlove. “We’re not impervious, but I’m very confident the state economy will continue to thrive in the future.” 

The last portion of the conference was dedicated to the state-level best bagger competition. Baggers from around the state participated in a competitive and energy filled event. (See accompanying story.)