Holly Adrien

The Kroger Co.

Title: Natural and Organic Strategy and Innovation Manager
Channel: Grocery
Portfolio: All-natural and organic products
Why Holly attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:            
Sweets & Snacks Expo is not only a great opportunity to sample innovation, but it also allows for great connections for those of us in the Sweets & Snacks space. 

Kara Alcorn 

Big Lots 

Title: Buyer
Channel: Value
Portfolio: Seasonal Candy, Food Gift Sets
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Our customer loves a treasure hunt and the surprise and delight of finding what’s new! Innovation only helps drive this excitement to our stores and to better serve our customers. 

Kirk Bailey

Kirk Bailey 

McLane Company 

Title: Senior Manager – Strategic Supplier Programs 
Channel: Distributor 
Portfolio: Snacks and Grocery 
Why Kirk attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:
The Sweets & Snacks Expo is a great opportunity for us to connect with our current suppliers and explore potential new ones. It’s a chance to see the latest products and trends in the industry. We keep an eye out for items that could fit well in the markets we serve. 

Sarah Bibbs

Sarah Bibbs

Core-Mark

Title: Senior Director of Merchandising   
Channel: Distributor  
Portfolio: Confections, meat snacks, salty snacks, cookies, sweet breakfast and nutrition 
How does innovation drive your business? 
Innovation provides a fun and exciting addition to core products to enhance incremental sales. As a distributor we find it crucial to be first-to-market with high-priority innovation. 

Ashley Borden  

Murphy USA

Title: Director of Center Store
Channel: Candy
Portfolio: Sweet and salty snacks  
Why Ashley attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:  
I attend Sweets & Snacks Expo every year to look at new and upcoming trends and meet new suppliers.  Expo is also the perfect opportunity to connect and grow our relationships with current suppliers. 

Katie Brown

Katie Brown

Bealls

Title: Buyer 
Channel: Specialty  
Portfolio: Confectionery, Snacks, Nuts, Gourmet Food, Drinks and Coffee 
Why does Katie attend Sweets & Snacks Expo? 
I am always looking for new: products, categories, vendors and trends.  It is also an opportunity to explore how to drive business with current vendors. 

Todd Budzinski

Sam’s Club 

Title: Senior Merchant
Channel: Club 
Portfolio: Candy and commercial bread 
How does innovation drive your business?
Innovation brings new members down the aisle and gets them acquainted with our everyday offerings, which then brings them back throughout the year.   

Jenny Caruso

Wakefern

Title: Candy Buyer
Channel: Grocery
Portfolio: Candy, Front-End, Desserts, Marshmallows, Flavorings
How does innovation help drive your business?
Innovation keeps customers engaged and excited about the category. It’s an incentive for the customer to make the unplanned purchases.

Kyle Dell’Arciprete

BJs Wholesale Club

Title: Category Merchant 
Channel: Club 
Portfolio: Everyday and seasonal confections, fruit snacks 
Why Kyle attends Sweets & Snacks Expo: 
The Sweets & Snacks Expo is a great event to find innovation within our category and network with the industry.  

Emily Dmiszewicki

Emily Dmiszewicki 

IT’SUGAR 

Title: Buyer 
Channel: Specialty 
Portfolio: Confectionery 
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Innovation is a huge part of our why at IT’SUGAR. Our customers come to us to look for the next coolest candy and expect to be able to find it in our stores. We strive to be where our customers can find fun, trending, and unique sweets along with their everyday favorites. 

Grant Demers

McLane Company, Inc. 

Title: VP of Sales, Mass, Club, Drug and Value 
Channel: Distributor 
Portfolio: Confections, seasonal confections, salty snacks, cookie/cracker 
Why Grant attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:  
The Expo is a premier scene for connectivity, product innovation and discussing real issues with the thought leaders of our industry. 

Kathy Douglas

Kathryn Douglas 

Paradies Lagardère

Title: Director of Merchandise North America 
Channel: Specialty
Portfolio: Savory Snacks & Confections
Why Kathy attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:  
The Sweets & Snacks Expo is the premiere show to immerse yourself in the category with key suppliers, meet new resources, learn about new trends, and collaborate with industry leaders. 

Michael Dukes

Michael Dukes

Harris Teeter

Title: Assistant Category Manager – Confections 
Channel: Grocery 
Portfolio: Confections 
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Innovation is a key concept that drives our business. The consumer is more informed than ever before.  Ideas like better-for-you, plant-based, freeze-dried are all examples of innovation either from social media or advancements in technology.       

Leslie Edminston

Leslie Edmiston

Wawa

Title: Senior Category Manager – Snacks & Tobacco
Channel: Convenience
Portfolio: Salty & Sweet Snacks
How does innovation drive your business?
Innovation is critical to our business and a key driver of growth. We want our customers to know they’ll always have choice at our stores for their snacking occasions. With the growth of new channels like delivery and mobile, even more opportunities open to showcase exciting new products to our customers. 

Mayra Falcon Fernandez  

Murphy USA

Title: Category Manager   
Channel: Convenience  
Portfolio: Salty and alternative snacks, packaged sweets, health/energy bars, ice cream & grocery
How does innovation drive your business?
It’s Innovation lets us stand out from competitors and stay on top of our customer needs. Recognizing the importance of innovation and acting on it will effectively drive growth and profitability for the business.   

Buckey Willet

Amanda Falitz 

BP 

Title: Category Manager  
Channel: Convenience 
Portfolio: Candy, Salty Snacks, Packaged Bakery 
How does innovation help drive your business? 
It shows our guests we are keeping up with trends and to keep coming back for new stuff. 

Brian Freel

Family Dollar

Title: Category Director  
Channel: Value
Portfolio: Confections 
Why Brian attends Sweets & Snacks Expo: 
I attend the Expo to meet new potential suppliers, see on-trend innovation and conduct strategic planning sessions with my supplier partners. It is an excellent opportunity to drive our business forward and to support our customers’ needs. 

Todd Gean

Hy-Vee

Title: Category Manager 
Channel: Grocery  
Portfolio: Everyday and seasonal candy 
Why Todd attends Sweets & Snacks Expo: 
The Sweets & Snacks Expo is one of the most important trade shows of the entire year. Our team attends to look for the most innovative and exciting new items, as well as to create new partnerships with the tremendous number of vendors that attend. This helps us create a roadmap for confections for the entire year.  

Susan Grassey

Harris Teeter

Title: Category Manager  
Channel: Grocery  
Portfolio: Front-end candy, everyday and seasonal candy 
How does innovation drive your business? 
Product innovation is what keeps customers excited. Innovation plays a key role in introducing novelty to existing product lines or processes, leading to increased market share, revenue and customer satisfaction. 

Robin Gutridge

Raley’s 

Title: Senior Category Manager
Channel: Grocery 
Portfolio: Confections 
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Innovation keeps the manufacturer and retailer relevant to the consumer and drives incremental growth. Everything about candy and snacking is fun! New product launches are the spark that keeps everyone engaged and searching for more. 

Jim Hachtel

Core-Mark International

Title: Director of Category Management  
Channel: Distributor  
Why Jim attends Sweets & Snacks Expo: 
It’s the “Super Bowl” of our business as we look for innovation, education, and relationship nurturing.  Everything I need to inform our category management decisions can be found at the Sweets & Snacks Expo.  

Lisa Ham 

Yesway  

Title: Director of Merchandising   
Channel: Convenience  
Portfolio: Center Store  
Why Lisa attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:  
The Sweets & Snacks Expo is one of my favorite events of the year. I love the education sessions which keep me up to date on the latest trends and innovations, the networking opportunities with suppliers and retailers from all over, and most importantly, discovering new products that help my business increase sales, margin, and remain competitive in our markets. 

Yana Hansen 

Albertsons Companies  

Title: National Candy Director 
Channel: Grocery
Portfolio: Take Home and Seasonal Confections  
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Consumers are looking for fun and new experiences in the candy aisle. Innovation is what helps drive that incremental purchase, and keeps up the excitement! 

Mo Hejazi

Mo Hejazi 

Candy Funhouse

Title: Chief Supply Chain Officer
Channel: eCommerce
Portfolio: Candy, Chocolates, Snacks
Why does Mo attend Sweets & Snacks Expo?
To gain insight into the upcoming year in the world of sweets and snacks. We are eager to discover what familiar brands have planned and are actively seeking the next emerging brand to collaborate with.

Jason Homola

Jason Homola

Wawa

Title: Director, Category Strategy & Merchandising
Channel: Convenience
Portfolio: All Center Store categories
How does innovation help drive your business?
Innovation is critical to category growth.  It drives excitement and expands the consumer basket.

Ellen Idler

Walgreens

Title: Associate Category Manager   
Channel: Drug
Portfolio:  Take-home and seasonal candy
Why Ellen attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:
I attend Sweets and Snacks to re-energize and spark strategic conversations with suppliers. It’s always great to be face-to-face with industry professionals, out of the office, and brainstorming about ways to implement new trends and provide the best candy assortment for our customer.

Peter Kempton

Peter Kempton, Jr.

b.a. Sweetie Candy Co.  

Title: President
Channel: Specialty
Portfolio: Candy
Why Peter attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:
Sweets & Snacks Expo is a great place to find new products, vendors and network with your peers. 

Heather Key

Heather Key

The Exchange

Title: Sr. Buyer   
Channel: Military  
Portfolio: Everyday candy, chocolate, fruity confections, gummy, gum, mints 
Why Heather attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:  
I love seeing all the new innovation and offerings from all candy suppliers in one place. It’s also great networking with current and potential partners. 

Melissa Kramer

KeHE Distributors

Title: Associate Category Manager   
Channel: Distributor
Portfolio: Confections
Why Melissa attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:  
Networking, relationship building, learning and innovation.

Hope LaGrone 

McLane Company 

Title: Senior Director – Strategic Supplier Programs 
Channel: Distributor 
Portfolio: Confections  
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Innovation is a key driver for our business. Understanding the industry’s latest trends and staying informed about new products is imperative for our merchandising experts that use that information coupled with data from our extensive data warehouse to inform retailers of product and planogram recommendations. Given the plethora of new items, diverse flavor profiles, and continually changing sizes and packaging within the category, it is crucial to attend events like the Sweet & Snacks Expo to stay abreast of the latest innovations. 

Heather Land

Heather Land

Dollar General

Title: Director of Merchandising – Candy 
Channel: Value 
Portfolio: Confections  
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Innovation is an integral part of our business. Candy is a luxury our shoppers will spend their hard-earned money and we love to surprise and delight them. 

Allison Lefkowitz

Allison Lefkowitz

Nassau Candy Distributors

Title: Category Manager – Confections
Channel: Distributor
Portfolio: Everyday and Seasonal Confections, Snacks
Why does Allison attend Sweets & Snacks Expo?
Sweets & Snacks Expo is the destination to uncover the latest trends and innovations in the candy and snack space. At Expo, I gain insights from the industry’s thought leaders, connect with the top candy brands for their latest offerings and meet new manufacturers and suppliers to add to our manufacturing network. 

Chris Lindstedt  

IT’SUGAR

Title: Vice President – Merchandising
Channel: Specialty  
Portfolio: Confections 
Why Chris attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:
To discover new items, new trends and new partners.  But of course, to meet with our amazing existing partners and continue building those relationships so we can push the business forward. 

Amy Matheson

Amy Matheson 

Lolli & Pops 

Title: Senior Merchandise Manager 
Channel: Specialty 
Portfolio: Candy/Confectionery 
Why does Amy attend Sweets & Snacks Expo? 
Sweets & Snacks is a fantastic opportunity to connect with new and existing partners in the industry in-person.  It’s an excellent place for identifying new products, trends, and drives creative thinking on how to bring a better offering to our customer. 

Jeff Mudd

Schnuck Markets

Title: Category Manager
Channel: Grocery
Portfolio: Confections and bakery
Why Jeff attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:
I attend Expo for the ability to connect with current vendors and keep up to date on cutting-edge trends. 

Zach Range

Zach Range 

Dollar General 

Title: Assistant Buyer – Seasonal Candy 
Channel: Value 
Portfolio: Seasonal Candy/Cookies/Salty Snacks 
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Innovation is critical to maintaining a “surprise & delight” for our shoppers. Confections remains as one of the last affordable treating occasions for the value shopper, and offering frequent innovation elevates our candy displays from an occasional shop to an everyday destination.  

Stephanie Reeder 

Yesway 

Title: Category Manager – Center Store 
Channel: Convenience 
Portfolio: Candy and Snacks 
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Keeping up with the latest trends and bold flavors; drive sales with the newest generations. Having the latest innovation drives high basket rings and repeat customers. 

Brian Rinker

Brian Rinker

Walgreens

Title: Director/Divisional Merchandise Manager: Snacking and Confections
Channel: Drug
Portfolio: Confections and snacks
How does innovation drive your business? 
Innovation is the lifeblood of the category, with younger generations having a 3x flavor preference vs older ones, and millennials are the most health and social conscious generation; we need to foster innovation to meet these demands.

Josh Rothstein

Josh Rothstein 

Redstone Distributors 

Title: Vice President
Channel: Distributor
Portfolio: Candy, Snacks and Beverages
How does innovation help drive your business?
Innovation is the life blood of our business. Customers are always looking for something new and exciting. Though they come for their favorites, new items are what bring the excitement and ultimately the purchases

Deb Sammon

Deb Sammon

Coborn’s  

Title: Category Growth Manager  
Channel: Grocery  
Portfolio: Candy and general merchandise 
Why Deb attends Sweets & Snacks Expo: 
Looking for new opportunities! What’s going to be the next bestsellers for 2024-2025? 

Dominic Scardina

Dominic Scardina 

Walgreens

Title: Category Manager – Confections
Channel: Drug
Portfolio: Candy bars, gum, mint and impulse candy 
Why Dominic attends Sweets & Snacks Expo: 
Expo is the most important event of the year because it brings all of the talent under one roof to ideate and strategize. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with our partners and follow up on what’s been happening with their brands. 

Mathieu Seguin 

Sam’s Club  

Title: Senior Merchant, Candy
Channel: Club
Portfolio: Candy
Why Mathieu attends Sweets & Snacks Expo: 
To meet vendors we would not connect with normally. 

Amber Seibert

The Exchange

Title: Sr. Buyer   
Channel: Military  
Portfolio: Seasonal Candy
Why Amber attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:
The Exchange attends the Sweets & Snacks Expo to meet new up-and-coming brands as well as connect with longstanding partners. The Expo provides a venue to see industry trends and strategize with our vendor community for the upcoming year. It is a must for our organization each year. 

Tabitha Sewell

KeHE Distributors

Title: Director of Category Management 
Channel: Distributor  
Portfolio: Candy & Snacks 
How does innovation drive your business? 
Innovation is the driving force behind the excitement at retail and it makes the customer interested in coming back to see what treasures they may find. Innovation brings new experiences to our customers. It may use new technology to solve a consumer need or better practices as we look to resolve sustainability issues. Innovation helps customers find healthier alternatives to the foods they purchase today. New ingredients and methods are being found every day. Consistent offerings of new products are necessary for retailers to remain relevant in a competitive market.  

Lindy Smith

Lindy Smith

Maverik

Title: Senior Director of Category Management  
Channel: Convenience 
Portfolio: Confections and snacks  
Why Lindy attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:  
Sweets & Snacks Expo is a great opportunity to network and reconnect with manufacturers on the latest and greatest products. Stepping away from the office also allows us a chance to meet and talk with other retailers who may offer differing viewpoints, insights and ideas. 

Alyssa Snyr

S. Abraham & Sons

Title: Senior Category Manager
Channel: Distributor
Portfolio: Center Store
Why Alyssa attends Sweets & Snacks Expo:
Sweets & Snacks is my favorite event of the year! I always find innovative items I haven’t seen before, as well as make new contacts with manufacturers, and other colleagues in the industry. The education seminars showcase relevant industry trends that help me build my business. I can’t wait to see it all in Indy! 

Meredith Stringer

Meredith Stringer

The Fresh Market

Title: Director of Merchandising
Channel: Distributor
Portfolio: Seasonal chocolate and non-chocolate candy
How does innovation drive your business?
Innovation is key to the shopping experience at The Fresh Market. Introducing our guests to unique, new items enhances our reputation, gives our guests an extraordinary shopping experience and provides shoppers a reason to return often. 

Sheree Van Dinter

Sheree Van Dinter 

Certco, Inc. 

Title: Category Manager – Candy & Household 
Channel: Distributor 
Portfolio: Everyday and Seasonal Confections 
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Innovation helps drive my business through finding new and exciting ways to engage consumers. My role has always been focused on growth and a fresh perspective brings new life to our industry & our world. My company serves independent retailers so it is key for me to focus on things that can create advancement in any platform. 

Andy Vennum 

Costco

Title: Buyer  
Channel: Club
Portfolio: Nuts, candy, chocolate, meat snacks, fruit snacks, bars, gum, count goods, salty snacks, cookies and crackers 
How does innovation drive your business?
Innovation drives member excitement and engagement across our entire business. We are constantly trying to create a treasure-hunt environment for our members and innovation is at the heart of that process.

Buckey Willet

Bucky Willet 

Walmart 

Title: Merchant – Seasonal Candy 
Channel: Mass 
Portfolio: Halloween and Valentine’s Day candy 
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Innovation is what drives excitement, trial, and continued growth for our brands and customers. Our goal is to provide the best items for today, tomorrow, and future generations. As the customer continues to change, we should too. Keeping our selection fun, engaging, and new is key to continuing to drive this growing category. The day that we stop innovating is the day we will start to lose customers’ trust and interest.  

Ashley Young

Sam’s Club  

Title: Merchant, Candy
Channel: Club
Portfolio: Candy
How does innovation help drive your business? 
Helps us understand what the newest innovation in our category is.