Abasto Presents First Successful Webinar for the Hispanic Food and Beverage Industry

Abasto Media held the first webinar targeting the Hispanic food and beverage industry in the United States, on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the supply chain. Ten panelists participated in the virtual event, which registered close to 500 attendees nationally and internationally.

The Abasto webinar was divided into three sessions. The first was on how the Covid-19 affected the meat and fresh produce industries. Guest speakers in this session were Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, and Lupillo Ramirez, President of the Latino Food Industry Association and Senior Director of Innovation and Product Development for Northgate Gonzalez Market.

The second session of the webinar targeting the Hispanic food and beverage industry was on how the Covid-19 Impacted on-Shelf Availability (OSA): Supplier Response. It was led by panelists Cindy Sorensen, founder of The Grocery Group, Jorge Gonzalez, Vice President of Operations at Leevers Supermarkets in Colorado and Victor Padilla, President of Padilla Imports Sales & Marketing.

The third session was on the role of the retailer during the pandemic. It was presented by four panelists, Angel Colon, Senior Director, Diversity, Supplier Inclusion and Multicultural at the Kroger company; Omar Jorge, President of Aurora Group and CEO of Compare Foods in Charlotte; Relinda Vasquez, owner of a Bravo supermarket in Miami and member of the Board of Directors of the National Supermarket Association, Florida Chapter; and Guillermo Washington, Vice President of Operations at El Rancho supermarket chain in Texas.

Gustavo Calabro, CEO of Abasto, led the virtual event along with a group of moderators from the print and digital publication team, which is the main information source for the Hispanic food and beverage industry in the United States.

Related Article: Employee Retention in the Midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic

“I am so pleased with our event, the registration and attendance numbers were overwhelming for being this our first webinar, that I was utterly taken by surprise. I am so thankful to everyone on our team for making this event a great success, particularly to Anita Grace. She coordinated the webinar and was a fundamental component for believing in this project from the beginning. Finally, my gratitude goes out to each of the panelists, who decided to take the time of their busy schedules and share their knowledge with all the attendees. We are planning our next webinar by mid-August, so I can’t wait to see you there!” noted Calabro.

Dan Calhoun, founder of the publication and CEO of the Hispanic food and beverage distributor, La Tortillería, highlighted the importance of Abasto as an information bridge between manufacturers and retailers, a mission that is even more important in times of crisis.

“Abasto began because Hispanic entrepreneurs did not have the opportunity to connect with businesses around the country. As we have seen in the past few months, the value of connecting businesses, people, and ideas has never been more important. We are proud that Abasto has been able to contribute to that effort and will continue to do so for as long as it takes,” said Calhoun.

How Did Covid-19 Affect The Meat And Produce Industries?

Julie Anna Potts

In the first session, Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), explained the reality that the meat industry is experiencing and how it has had to adapt to the new reality since the processing plants where a large majority of workers are of Hispanic origin have been epicenters of serious outbreaks of coronavirus.

The challenges of maintaining fruit and vegetable supplies

Tom Stenzel

Tom Stenzel, offered the fresh produce industry’s perspective on the pandemic and the challenges they have faced in maintaining the supply chain, as nearly 50 percent of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S. are imported from other countries, mostly Mexico.

How has Northgate Gonzalez Market worked with suppliers to maintain supplies in these two categories?

Lupillo Ramírez

Lupillo Ramirez spoke about how the Northgate Gonzalez Market supermarket chain in California has managed the supply of fresh meat and produce during the pandemic.

How COVID-19 Impacted OSA: The Suppliers Response

The second session of Abasto’s webinar for the Hispanic food and beverage industry was moderated by Julio Ibañez, founder and president of the Hispanic Retail Chamber of Commerce, who spoke with guest speakers on the topic of On-Shelf Availability.

The Response of the Dairy Industry

Cindy Sorensen

Cindy Sorensen, founder of The Grocery Group and columnist for Abasto, spoke about what has been happening in the dairy industry since the Covid-19 pandemic began and what has been learned from this crisis.

The Action Plan to Maintain On-Shelf Availability

Jorge Gonzalez

Leevers Supermarkets’ Vice President of Operations, Jorge Gonzalez, presented a broad overview of the work that the Colorado supermarket chain, which operates numerous Save a Lot stores that serve the Hispanic community, has done and how the Covid-19 has impacted the availability of products on the shelves, especially Hispanic products.

The experience from the point of view of a food producer and distributor

Victor Padilla

As a manufacturer and distributor of Hispanic products, Victor Padilla shared the difficulties they have faced due to the closure of operations in the restaurant industry and how they are working with supermarkets to distribute their products. (The video has some audio problems).

The Role of the Retailer During the Pandemic

The third session of Abasto’s webinar for the Hispanic food and beverage industry, dedicated to the role that supermarkets have played during the Covid-19 pandemic, was moderated by Hernando Ramirez-Santos, editorial coordinator of Abasto.

Kroger’s work with minority suppliers

Angel Colón

In this segment aimed at the Hispanic food and beverage industry, Angel Colon, Senior Director, Diversity, Supplier Inclusion, and Multicultural at Kroger, explained what the benefit of working with minority suppliers has been during the pandemic and how Kroger plans to further develop its business with minority suppliers.

How service to consumers changed

Omar Jorge Peña

For his part, Omar Jorge, president of Aurora Group and CEO of Compare Foods in Charlotte, shared the experiences his stores have had during the crisis and how his stores adapted to the needs of shoppers.

The role of an independent supermarket during the pandemic

Relinda Vásquez

Relinda Vasquez, the owner of a Bravo supermarket in North Miami, spoke about how keeping her employees safe has been critical to the operation of her store, and as an independent retailer, being able to count on the support of an association like the Florida chapter’s National Supermarket Association.

There was no lack of surprises in consumer purchasing behavior

Guillermo Washington

In Texas, the Hispanic supermarket chain El Rancho was able to prepare in time to protect its team of employees and have the stores safe to serve customers, said Guillermo Washington, vice president of operations. The experience he gained managing supermarkets in Mexico helped him in handling the current emergency. However, he was surprised by some changes in consumer shopping behavior.

Drawing among attendees of Abasto’s webinar on the Hispanic food and beverage industry

At the end of the Abasto webinar, the nearly 500 attendees who registered to participate in the virtual event entered a raffle for an iPad and several cash prizes, thanks to the sponsorship of two well-known Hispanic food companies.

The Hispanic chorizo brand Mr. Tango and the cornflour Nixtamalizado manufacturer, Minsa USA, participated as the official sponsors of the first webinar aimed at the Hispanic food and beverage industry.

The winners of the raffle are: Lori Esquivel, iPad winner; Armando Crespo, $50 gift card; Jose Herrera, $50 gift card; Amy Wilson, $50 gift card; Paola Ochoa, $50 gift card; Gabriela Tefel, $50 gift card.