PFMA’s Fall Legislative Conference Focuses on Key Issues for Food Retailers in 2023

HERSHEY, PA — Industry leaders and key government insiders shared their insight on everything from holiday trends to inflation challenges to the potential impact of upcoming elections with members of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association this week in Hershey. 

The two-day conference delivered panels and discussions focused on a range of opportunities and challenges food retailers can anticipate in 2023. The event included moments to socialize and celebrate, as members gathered for golf at Hershey Country Club’s East Course and the association shared milestones from its 70 years in the industry. 

“It’s always a pleasure to connect with our members and hear from industry experts on trends and challenges facing the industry,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “This is a particularly special year for PFMA as we celebrate 70 years as an association. We are able to accomplish what we do because we have an incredibly supportive and active membership. The conference provides an opportunity to prepare for future challenges we’ll face together as an industry.” 

PFMA welcomed Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI—The Food Industry Association, as the keynote speaker during dinner Tuesday. Sarasin thanked the association for its “faithful service to the food industry” over its 70-year history. That unified voice is “critical when meeting with federal legislators on complex issues,” she said. 

Sarasin provided a wealth of information on the public perception of the business sector, holiday trends, shifting shopper concerns, online shopping, out-of-stocks and more.  

“We’re still feeling our way along as we move from pandemic to endemic, still trying to figure out work styles, deal with the economic aftereffects of COVID-19 exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and figure out which consumer shopping behaviors that shifted during the pandemic are going to stick and require further investment and development from the food industry,” she said. 

However, grocery shares a special bond with its communities, she continued. “We are a mostly silent, but integral part of every single-family feast… As we walk through our research findings, I hope you will join me in finding ways we can make things better for shoppers—not just because it will improve our public image, but because it’s a way of helping heal our world and improving the public’s image of itself.” 

During dinner, Rep. Sheryl Delozier also recognized PFMA’s 70 years serving and supporting the food retail industry by presenting the association with an anniversary citation. 

Sessions began Wednesday focused on challenges and opportunities facing the tobacco sector. Representatives from SNAC International, FMI and NACS then covered a range of topics facing the food industry, including transportation issues, supply chain, the possibility of a recession and more. 

The conference concluded with Alan Novak and T.J. Rooney of Rooney Novak Isenhour Group discussing potential outcomes and impacts of the upcoming elections. 

PFMA thanks all those who attended and participated in this year’s conference. A special thank you to Hershey Country Club and Troeg’s Brewery for their hospitality.  

The PFMA Annual Conference is scheduled for May 9 and 10, 2023, at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square. Details are forthcoming.  

About PFMA 

The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, a statewide trade association, advocates the views of nearly 800 convenience stores, supermarkets, independent grocers, wholesalers and consumer product vendors. PFMA members operate more than 4,000 stores and employ more than 250,000 Pennsylvanians. For more information on PFMA, visit