In just two days, CRU delivers years of insights you won't get anywhere else
7:15am – 8:00pm

Registration & Information Desk

Location: CRU Product Gallery, 3rd floor
Presented By:
Altria Group Distribution Company
McLane Company, Inc.
8:00am – 8:45am

Continental Networking Breakfast

Location: CRU Product Gallery, 3rd floor
9:00am – 10:00am

General Session

Location: Armstrong Ballroom, 8th Floor
The Future of Authority and the Rise of AI

Who we listen to and who we trust is changing. Smarter systems and machines are emerging – ready and willing to make decisions on our behalf. AI and machine learning are having a transformative effect on every sector and industry. In some areas, automation is increasing capacity and capability, while in others, it will lead to dramatic consolidation and disruption, especially with regard to employment. Jesse will explore the significant ethical issues to consider as we embrace these smart systems. Jesse discusses the ongoing role humans will play in an era of autonomous and intelligent machines. His insights will help individuals and organizations not only survive this turbulent era, but more importantly, to thrive in the age of entanglement.


Metaviews Media Management Ltd.

Presented By:
Altria Group Distribution Company
Closing Remarks
Presented By:
Middleby Corporation, The
10:15am – 11:00am

Innovation Forums

Location: Napoleon Ballrooms (A-D, 3rd floor) and 8th floor meeting rooms

The essence of CRU is the educational curriculum available to all attendees, providing insight, key trends and data, and valuable ideas to implement in stores. Regardless of your sphere of responsibility within the convenience industry, you will find the workshops informative, enlightening and engaging.

Option 1: The Writing’s (Actually Not) on the Wall

When window clings, shelf talkers, and in-store signage are no longer effective, what’s next in your playbook?

The shift in restaurant online orders went from 10% to 50% in less than a decade and the same is projected for the convenience store industry. Forward-thinking category managers have already shifted their behavior to new ways of selling product through direct digital customer engagement.

In this session, you’ll learn how today’s category managers are updating their playbooks to include more dynamic ways to sell product.

You’ll walk away with new ideas to:

-Increase CPG funds to promote your products and drive sales.

-Use individual customer data to sell even more in your category.

-Drive sales and cross sell with digital ordering and delivery. 


C-Store Data Insights Strategist

Presented By:
Option 2: Age Restricted Categories: Leading Positive Change

The retail landscape is having unprecedented shifts with new and historical age restricted products coming to the market. JUUL Labs invites you to learn about the strength of these categories, the potential risks to prepare for, and the necessary evolutions to responsibly lead these changes together.


Sr Director Category Leadership

Vice President Retail Service Management

Presented By:
Option 3: Next Generation of Bottled Water Packaging

Where Nestle will take bottled water packaging in the future


Vice President of Sales
Nestle Waters

Presented By:
Nestlé Waters North America
Option 4: Lottery and Sports Wagering

The Next Evolution of Payments in Retail

Presented By:
Option 5:
11:00am – 11:30am

Refreshment Break/Transition

Location: CRU Product Gallery (3rd floor)
11:30am – 12:30pm

Category Expert & Exercise

Location: Napoleum Ballrooms (A-D, 3rd floor) and 8th floor meeting rooms
Track: Foodservice - Category Expert Presentation & Exercise

Our category expert speaker will talk about ways new flavors and products can be introduced, whether the retailer has traditional, aspirational or exceptional foodservice at their stores.


Managing Editor

Senior Editor
Restaurant Business Magazine and FoodService Director Magazine

Presented By:
McLane Company, Inc.
Middleby Corporation, The
Track: Packaged Beverages - Category Expert Presentation & Exercise

This packaged beverage expert will discuss category management techniques, especially around assortment selections in limited vault space, and retailers with a variety of store shapes and sizes.


Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer
BMC Research, Beverage Marketing Corp.

Presented By:
Nestlé Waters
Track: Behind the Counter - Category Expert Presentation & Exercise

Behind the counter expert speaker will talk about the myriad new products; IQOS, ON, CBD vape and wraps, new leaf cigars, etc., and how to assess what should be added to the set, what can come out.


Managing Director
RBC Capital Markets

Presented By:
JT International U.S.A., Inc.
Track: Dispensed Beverage - Category Expert Presentation & Exercise

Dispensed Beverage expert speaker will talk about equipment (bean to cup) and other innovations in dispensed beverages.


Managing Partner
Balvor LLC

Presented By:
Danone North America
Middleby Corporation, The
Track: CBD - Category Expert Presentation & Exercise

Navigate the maze of federal, state and local laws around CBD and cannabis for a clearer understanding of what you can and cannot do in your stores.


Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Presented By:
Floyd's of Leadville
Track: Technology & Operations - Category Expert Presentation & Exercise

This expert presenter will talk about what’s new in technology, why is it critical to get into mobile payment and what’s needed to assure security.



Track: Center Store - Category Expert Presentation & Exercise

Here we will discuss merchandising. As products proliferate, more extensions of products and more flavors evolve… how does a retailer display with so many options? What’s the rationale? What are the “must haves”... and what are the products that might vary by region or store locations?


Executive Vice President, Consumer & Shopper Marketing

Track: Loyalty - Category Expert Presentation & Exercise

Expert speaker to speak on the psychology of loyalty and will touch on the questions; is delivery more about convenience? Does good delivery increase loyalty? Which comes first in the mind of the consumer?


Chief Executive Officer
Hanifin Loyalty

12:30pm – 1:30pm

Networking Lunch

Location: CRU Product Gallery, 3rd floor
2:00pm – 5:30pm

Special Events (choose 1 of 3)

Please be aware that capacity is limited and excursions will be available on a first-come, first-served basis; pre-registration will be required for each activity.


You are also required to check-in for each special event at the special event desk the morning of your selected activity to secure your spot. If you do not check-in at least 10 minutes prior to bus departure time, you forfeit your place to an attendee on the wait list.

Option 1: French Quarter & Cemetery Walking Tour

Led by a professional tour guide, enjoy a historical exploration of one of America's most interesting neighorhoods. Learn the authentic history of world-famous pirates, voodoo, Creole culture, cuisine and European architecture on this tour, ending with a stop at the famous Cafe Du Monde for a beignet and coffee.

2:00pm - 2:30pm - Check-in

2:30pm - Departure

5:30pm - Arrive at Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Presented By:
Ruiz Food, Inc.
Option 2: Store Tours

What better way to see the latest innovations in c-store design and merchandising than to visit the stores themselves? CRU’s Store Tours Program takes attendees along on a curated agenda of store visits to see what some of the area’s top operators are doing. Participants will view strategies in action within key categories and experience signature features of each location. The consumer and retail space is evolving rapidly, and you can’t afford to miss out on this competitive learning opportunity.

2:15pm - 2:45pm - Check-in

2:45pm - Bus departure

3:00pm - 5:00pm - Store Tours

5:00pm - Arrive at Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Presented By:
Option 3: Who is Your Consumer and How Can You Get Their Dollars?

This three-part roundtable event will present exclusive data and insights, shedding light on different demographic consumer groups by age and market type as well as the trends impacting their buying habits. Our experts will discuss disruptions such as aging millennials, the evolution of delivery and other tech-driven advances that are shaking up business as we know it.

2:00pm – 2:30pm        Consumer Trends by Demographic Group (Gen Z, Millennial, Boomer, etc.)

2:30pm – 2:45pm        Roundtable discussions

2:45pm – 3:15pm        Consumer Trends by Market Type (Urban, Rural, Mid-size, etc.)

3:15pm – 3:30pm        Roundtable discussions

3:30pm – 3:45pm        Break

3:45pm – 4:15pm        The Evolution of Delivery and Where the Opportunity is Now

4:15pm – 4:30pm        Roundtable discussions and close


Senior Manager, Consumer Insights

Content Director, Foodservice
Winsight Media

Editor, Convenience Group
Winsight, LLC

5:30pm – 6:30pm

Cocktail Hour

Location: CRU Product Gallery, 3rd floor

End a successful and educational CRU with appetizers and drinks while connecting with old industry friends and make new ones!

6:30pm – 8:00pm

Dinner on your Own

6:30pm – 10:00pm

CRU Product Gallery Teardown

Location: CRU Product Gallery, 3rd floor
8:00pm – 10:00pm

Parade Watch Party

Location: Roux Bistro, 2nd floor

Celebrate new friendships and the conclusion of a terrific CRU at the official Mardi Gras Kick-off festivities - the viewing party for the Krewe of Druids followed by the Krewe of Nyx