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Student Achievements

National Student Food Marketing Challenge Winner

Several students from Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences showcased their marketing expertise in a real-world setting and won first place in a national food marketing challenge Oct. 19-20. Cal Poly’s team took first place for the second year in a row at the Food Distribution Research Society’s National Student Food Marketing Challenge in Seattle.

Agricultural communication senior Emma Manoukian and agribusiness seniors Victoria Cohen, Katie Kelley, and Anna Hilbert created a market plan addressing specific challenges for an agribusiness company selected prior to the competition. They presented their findings to academia and industry judges, with three teams advancing to the final round to present to representatives of the company. Assistant Professor Cristina Connolly advised the team.

The contest selects a client local to the conference location that is facing a challenge in food or beverage distribution or marketing. This year's client was Pear Up Cider, a hard pear cider company, which proposed two challenges for students to address. First, Pear Up wanted help differentiating itself in a saturated beverage market, while expanding across the U.S. The company also wanted to penetrate the European market and sought the best strategy for the company. 

“These two very different, very broad challenges tested our knowledge of food distribution, marketing, management, merchandising, and economics,” Manoukian said. “This contest is perfect example of Learn by Doing, as we had the opportunity to work with a real-world industry client, gather research, present it in a clear manner, and then defend our decisions in a professional way.”

Cal Poly competed against six universities from across the country, including Chico State, Fresno State, University of Delaware, University of Missouri-Columbia, Arkansas State University, and Texas A&M.