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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, brought to you by Webstop, your first stop for retail website design services.

So I’m sitting here at the 51st Annual CIES World Food Business Summit in Shanghai, China, and I’m looking at the attendee directory. After all, this ought to be a good barometer of what supermarket retailers from my home country, the United States, are really interested in learning from the global marketplace, and in seeing things that perhaps they have never seen before.

Let’s see.

There’s Ahold, which sent Alan Noddle, a retired member of its corporate executive board.

There’s Alex Lee, represented by chairman and CEO Boyd George.

There’s Delhaize Group’s US contingent, which includes Ron Hodge, the CEO of Hannaford Brothers, and Rick Anicetti, CEO of Food Lion.

Rutter’s, a c-store chain, sent its CEO, Scott Hartman, and NACS, the trade association, sent its president, Hank Armour. Roy Strasburger, another c-store retailer, also is here.

Trader Joe’s sent a couple of folks. As did Wal-Mart. But of course, I’m not surprised to see Wal-Mart here, because it always sends people to these international conferences, summits and congresses as a way of learning and networking.

And that’s it. Everybody else from the US is either a manufacturer, a service provider, an academic, or a consultant. Except, of course, for little old me…I’m the only American covering the summit, but quite frankly I like it that way.

As for the rest of you…what are you thinking? That there’s nothing to learn here in Shanghai? Not true…the store tours were fascinating. That’s there’s nobody worth meeting here? Again, not true…the networking opportunities have been revealing. That it is too far and too expensive to go to? It is far, and it ain’t cheap. But illumination often has a price, and it certainly is less expensive than myopia and self-delusion.

Look, I’m not a shill for CIES. But I’ve never gone to one of these conferences where I didn’t learn something that helped me do my job better and understand your businesses better. And I just believe in my heart that a greater willingness to look at the world and learn from it would serve the US retail food industry immeasurably.

From Shanghai, China, for MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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