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2019 Food Import Industry Convention

U.S. food importers rely on the AFI Annual Convention to stay current on issues and happenings in the food import industry and to stay connected with their industry colleagues. The 2019 AFI Convention will take place April 11-13 at the Westin Austin Downtown, Austin, Texas. This convention is absolutely packed with informative content – important information vital to all professionals in the U.S. food import business.

AFI will feature topics such as:

  • Blockchain technology for the food import industry
  • Tariff considerations
  • Risk assessment and mitigation in the food business
  • FSVP/VQIP/FDA inspections and planning
  • Supply chain, distribution patterns and decision-making as technology rapidly advances.
  • Team building within your organization




Shawn Stevens, Founder, Food Industry Counsel
“The Importance of Readiness; FSVP Inspections, Best Practices for FSVP Compliance & Other Hot Issues”
In the food import industry, proper training and preparation have never been more vital. The process of making sure your staff stands ready to protect your brand with compliance with FDA and USDA regulations begins now. Stevens, a prominent attorney representing clients throughout all sectors of the food industry, will outline where to start and how to minimize your exposure.

Mauricio Rouselon, Lead Instructor/Auditor FSPCA, ASQ CMQ/OE, CHA, VQIP and Food and Safety Manager, Latin America Perry Johnson Registrars
“The Value in Participating in the VQIP”
FDA’s Voluntary Qualified Importer Program creates a “fast lane” for participating importers. Get details on the program, including its costs and benefits. See if it’s right for your firm!

Domenic Veneziano, Owner, Veneziano Consulting
"Preparing for and Managing for an FDA Inspection; An Investigator’s Perspective"
When the call comes that you will face an FDA inspection, what are your most important actions? After years of service at FDA, including time as the Division of Import Operations during development of FSMA, Veneziano is uniquely suited to offer advice on the best ways to prepare for an upcoming FDA inspection. Learn what the investigators are looking for and how to manage the process before it actually happens.

Annette Mueller, Senior Commercial Manager, North America, Maersk GTD, TradeLens
“The Basics of Blockchain Technology and How It Will Change the Supply Chain Import Industry”
Blockchain Technology is about to transform the food import industry. The ability to track a food item or ingredient back to its origins could help the industry identify problems and where they occurred. Maersk and IBM have forged TradeLens, an entity specifically designed to manage their Blockchain initiatives. Get the details on Blockchain and how it will affect your business sooner rather than later.

Joleen Goronkin, President, People and Performance Strategies
“The Incredible Power of Teams”
Do you want your teams to have the ultimate competitive advantage? Do you want to build a healthy organization? In this highly interactive session, participants will explore the five behaviors of a cohesive team and learn to apply them to your team to ultimately improve performance and workplace productivity.

Matt Myer, Founder and President, Flatrock Strategic Consulting
“Influential Trends Impacting the Supply Chain and Distribution Patterns”
At the close of two days packed with information on food import industry issues, Myer will use his expertise to sum it all up. Trends in the industry that impact everything discussed, from training and inspections, to the supply chain changes around the bend, to the risks associated with operating in the food import industry – Myer will address the best ways to use the tools of technology, distribution and logistics in an efficient, cost-effective way.

Risk Management for the Food Industry:
An Expert’s Panel

Gerry Horn, Partner, Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg: Section 301 (Trump) Tariffs and Mitigation by First Sale

Jennifer Lott, Food Technical Manager, SGS: Risk Assessment on Food Safety During an Acquisition

Michael O’Flaherty, Principal Attorney, OFW Law: The Importance of a Cost/Benefit Analysis Before Making a Marketing Claim

Rob Kastenschmidt, Partner, Mazars: Prioritizing Your Risk Protection

Industry Experts Fair

Welcome to Austin! When you get to the Westin, come enjoy some Austin-style refreshments at the first-ever Industry Experts Fair. Seven well-regarded professionals will be on hand to offer information on their contribution to the industry. Each represents an organization that was recommended by AFI members. Enjoy Austin-style beers and wine and some Texas snacks while catching up with AFI friends and these informative industry experts.

CEO Roundtable and Leadership Development Session

This first ever session will bring AFI executives together for an open dialog about developing their people. Ideal for existing C-suite leadership and those identified as future leaders.

Seating is extremely limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. RSVP required.

Hotel: The Westin Austin Downtown is located steps from the historic sites, inspiring cuisines, eclectic shops and outdoor events for which Austin is so well-known. This upscale, downtown hotel has amazing views of the city and a rooftop pool. You can expect friendly Westin service with an authentic Austin flair. Touted as the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin promises to entertain and delight.

Guest room rates start at $239 for a single or double, $259 for a triple and $279 for a quad. This special room rate offered AFI attendees will be honored until March 19. Reservations can be made at:

A travel discount has been negotiated with United Airlines. United offers discounts off published fares of 2 percent to 10 percent or zone fares. To book online: and enter your Offer Code ZGAZ137315. Booking online avoids the $25 service fee collected per ticket. When booking through a travel professional the Zcode is ZGAZ and Agreement Code is 137315.

Car Rental discounts: The AFI corporate discount code for Dollar Rental. Go to and enter CDP # 3020519

Tentative Schedule

Thursday, April 11
9am-Noon: Nut & Agricultural Products Section Meeting
12-2pm Board of Directors meeting
2-4pm CEO Roundtable/Leadership Development Session
4-6pm Registration
4-6pm Industry Experts Fair & Austin-Style Welcome
6:30pm Welcome Reception sponsored by NSF International
Friday, April 12
7:30am Breakfast sponsored by Sahadi Fine Foods
8:15am AFI General Membership Meeting
8:30-9:15am Shawn Stevens - “The Importance of Readiness; FSVP Inspections, Best Practices for FSVP Compliance & Other Hot Issues”
9:15-9:35am Mauricio Rouselon - “The Value of Participating in the VQIP”
9:35-10:15am Domenic Veneziano - "Preparing for & Managing an FDA Inspection; An Investigator’s Perspective"
10:15-10:30am Q&A session for morning speakers
10:30am Break sponsored by Schreiber Foods Int’l
10:45-Noon Annette Mueller - “The Basics of Blockchain Technology and How it Will Change the Supply Chain Import Industry”
1pm Walking Tour of Musical Heritage in Austin (pre- registration and additional fee required; meet in lobby)
6:30pm Cocktail Reception sponsored by Cambridge Global Payments
Saturday, April 13
7:30am Breakfast sponsored by Orlando Food Sales
8:30-9:15am Joleen Goronkin - “The Incredible Power of Teams”
9:15-10:30am Panel: Risk Assessment & Mitigation in the Food Import Industry
• Section 301 (Trump) Tariffs and Mitigation by First Sale — Gerry Horn, Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg
• Risk Assessment on Food Safety During Acquisition — Jennifer Lott, SGS
• Cost/Benefit Analysis Before Making a Marketing Claim — Michael O’Flaherty, OFW Law
• Prioritizing Your Risk Protection — Rob Kastenschmidt, Mazars
Q&A with all panel participants
10:30am Break
10:45-11:30am Matt Myer “Influential Trends Impacting the Supply Chain, Distribution, Logistics and the Best Use of Technology”
11:30am Processed Food Section Meeting
12:30pm Golf Tournament (pre-registration and additional fee apply)
6:30pm Cocktail Hour sponsored by Coughlin Insurance Services
7:30pm Food Import Industry Dinner with Live Music Wine with dinner sponsored by AMD Oil Sales LLC



Association of Food Industries
3301 Route 66, Ste. 205, Bldg. C
Neptune, NJ 07753
(732) 922-3008 • Fax: (732) 922-3590