Produce For Better Health Foundation group picture

Agricultural business students score top finishes in national marketing competitions

* Photo gallery

Fresno State agricultural business students placed among the nation’s top programs at two marketing competitions hosted by national trade organizations.

At the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s (PBH) annual conference in early April in Scottsdale, Fresno State narrowly finished in second place in the Formula 5 Fruit and Vegetable Marketing Competition behind Arizona State University.

Four Fresno State students – seniors Hunter Berry (San Jacinto), Julissa Chavez (Porterville) and Markus Espinoza (Firebaugh) and junior Morgan Scettrini (Salinas) - traveled to the conference to represent the “Bold Blue Consulting” team. Berry made the team’s final oral presentation to more than 100 conference participants for the proposed ready-to-serve grilled eggplant product.

Other Fresno State students who helped prepare the initial presentation included seniors Taylor Ball (Fresno), Rigoberto Guzman (Tulare), Madeline Loftus (Fresno), Emilia Segovia (Castroville) and junior Brooke Woods (Bakersfield).

Student teams from the University of Wisconsin and West Chester University were also among four team finalists that were invited to attend and present at the conference.

Overall, 59 written preliminary proposals were evaluated in January and judged on their market analysis, business proposition, marketing tactics, implementation plan, metrics and budget. The contest goal was to encourage students to better understand the fruit and vegetable industry and market products in new and innovative ways.

Fresno State teams won the same contest in 2015 and finished in third place in 2016.

Ag business students at Las Vegas case study competition

Last November at the National Grocery Association (NGA) annual conference in Las Vegas, Fresno State agricultural business students also finished as one of six collegiate team finalists in a case study competition

The topic for the competition focused on creating new marketing strategies for attracting millennials to grocery stores. Their proposal, budget and implementation strategies included a mobile app, front-of-store promotional events, radio advertisements, grab and go meal kits and a new customer relations manager position.

Four Fresno State students participated in the oral presentation at the conference and included senior Jake Goforth (Visalia), Rigoberto Guzman, Morgan Scettrini and Brooke Woods.

Six other students also attended the NGA conference to meet professionals and learn about industry trends - seniors Jacqueline Medina (Salinas) and Brian Sampson (Yreka), Julissa Chavez, Markus Espinoza, Madeline Loftus, Brian Sampson and Emilia Segovia.

Segovia also participated in a panel discussion for millennial consumer behavior and placed third overall in a 5K fun run organized by the Women Grocers of America (WGA) to fund scholarships for students pursuing careers in the independent grocery industry.

Fresno State also finished among the top six nationally at the same competition the prior year.

Students from both competitions were part of the ag business 185T class that was under the guidance of department chairperson Dr. Annette Levi and supervised at the competition by Dr. Serhat Asci and Dr. Todd Lone. Students received additional contest preparation help from Dr. Srinivasa Konduru and Dr. Patrick Berends.

“These contests helped prepare our students to solve real life business problems in the food and agriculture industry,” said Asci. “Our students learned how to apply theoretical knowledge and find practical solutions to important issues in these specific industries. They also had an opportunity to meet industry stakeholders and sometimes their future employers and business partners. They dedicated one year of intensive work to prepare for the contests and performed at a high level at both of them.”