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Press Releases

January 20, 2017
Virginia’s Specialty Food and Beverage Entrepreneurs to Sharpen Business and Marketing Skills
Virginia Specialty Food and Beverage Educational Conference March 6-7 in Richmond
Contact: Dawn Eischen, 804.786.1904

Nationally recognized food, beverage and marketing industry experts will share their knowledge with business owners from across the Commonwealth at the Virginia Specialty Food and Beverage Educational Conference March 6-7 at the Omni Richmond Hotel. The conference, hosted by Virginia’s Specialty Food Advisory Committee in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Virginia Tech’s Department of Food Science and Technology, will focus on trends, product pricing, sales, marketing and food safety. Many of the businesses participating in the conference have earned the Virginia’s Finest® designation.

According to the Specialty Food Association, a national industry trade group, specialty foods and beverages accounted for more than $120 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2015. The top-selling category is cheese, followed by meat, poultry and seafood in second place, and chips, pretzels and snacks in third place.

Featured presenters include:

  • Specialty Food Association (SFA) President Phil Kafarakis will open with a discussion about the 2017 food trends. Prior to joining SFA last year, he served as chief innovation and member advancement officer for the National Restaurant Association.
  • Jim Burke, organizational development professional and director of the Performance Management Group at Virginia Commonwealth University, will offer tips for getting the best out of team members.
  • Virginia Tech food experts Dr. Rob Williams and Joell Eifert will provide updates on food safety, labeling requirements and recalls.
  • Chadwick Curtis, assistant professor from the University of Richmond’s Economics Department, will examine the economic outlook for small to mid-sized businesses.
  • Dave Saunders, chief idea officer and nationally recognized expert in branding and digital marketing from Richmond-based Madison+Main, will discuss how to tie marketing and sales with social media.
  • JJ White, chief engagement officer at Dale Carnegie in Richmond, will discuss the art of the sale.

For more information about the conference, agenda and registration, visit

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