CSU Chico- 2015 Student Marketing        2015 Clients: To-Jo Mushrooms and                                        Challenge Winners!                                  Mushroom Council

CSU Chico Marketing Team FDRS 2015
From Left to right in the above picture: Dante DiSano, Seanna Griffis, Marnie Dalton, Luke Benton, Angela Faryan, Enrique Pinon
2015 Clients
From left to right: Tony D’Amico (President, To-Jo Mushrooms, Inc.), Kevin Delaney (Vice President, Sales and Marketing, To-Jo Mushrooms, Inc.) Dr. Timothy Woods (Past-President, Food Distribution Research Society) Bart Minor, (President and CEO, Mushroom Council)











For Immediate Release

 College Students Participate in Food Marketing Competition

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-

College students from across the country competed in the Food Distribution Research Society (FDRS) Student Food Marketing Contest on October 10th and 11th, during the Society’s 2015 Annual Meeting. The marketing contest required students to apply their agribusiness knowledge to a live business case presented by a company executive on the day of the contest. Details on the partnering company were kept confidential until the first day of competition, so that the students were all faced with the same set of information and time constraints to analyze the case and prepare presentations for the company executives.

This year’s mystery clients were The Mushroom Council and To-Jo Mushrooms, Inc. The Mushroom Council is an industry trade group that plays a key role in national promotion of fresh mushrooms. To-Jo Mushrooms is a family owned and operated grower and shipper of fresh and prepared mushrooms, based in Avondale, Pennsylvania. For information about The Mushroom Council and To-Jo Mushrooms, please visit http://mushroomcouncil.org/ and http://to-jo.com/.

Bart Minor, President and CEO of the Mushroom Council, and Kevin Delaney and Tony D’Amico, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and President, respectively, of To-Jo Mushrooms, Inc., presented the case and judged the final presentations. Teams were challenged to assess how a distributor may be required to manage and safeguard supplier-buyer partnerships that could be affected by an exclusivity agreement, while trying to meet demand for an innovative food product.   The food product in question was the meat-mushroom blended burger patty, which is being offered as a healthy, high quality and competitively priced option to foodservice, retail and end consumers. Given the drive toward expanding healthy dining choices for health-conscious consumers, and the implementation of tougher federal nutrition guidelines for school meals, the concept has been well received in the marketplace.

Nine university teams, comprised of more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students, took part in the competition. Teams from California State University at Chico, California State University at Fresno, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, California Polytechnic State University at Pomona, Colorado State University, University of Idaho, and the University of Kentucky, all competed in the competition. The top four teams were awarded plaques and cash prizes at the FDRS conference’s welcoming reception and presidential awards banquet on Sunday, October 11th. First place went to California State University at Chico, coached by Marnie Dalton. California State University at Fresno, coached by Serhat Asci, won second place. University of Idaho, coached by Aaron Johnson, was awarded third place. Colorado State University, coached by Dawn Thilmany, took home the fourth place award.

Dawn Thilmany, President of the Food Distribution Research Society, noted, “It was so valuable to have these key industry players at the competition for the students to interact with ….. bringing lessons they have learned in the classroom to life.” She lauded the teams for their efforts, stating, “The caliber of students we saw present gave us great excitement about the future leaders of the food industry.”

The Food Distribution Research Society is a professional organization designed to bring together academia, industry, and government to discuss current challenges in food marketing and distribution. For more information about the 2016 FDRS Student Food Marketing Challenge that will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, Sept 30-Oct 3, 2016, please contact VP of Student Programs, Lurleen Walters (lurleen.walters@msstate.edu).

Who: Teams of 3-5 undergraduate and graduate students (majority undergraduate)

When: October 10-11, 2015

Where: Wyndham Hotel in the Philadelphia Historic District

Why: A first of its kind event, the Marketing  Case Competition provides students with opportunities for professional development, industry interaction, and exciting fun

What:A live case format and rich industry involvement highlight the Food Distribution Research Society’s 16th annual student case study competition.

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The Food Marketing Challenge is truly a unique opportunity for students to apply their academic training in a realistic business environment while rubbing elbows with food industry experts and executives.

This year’s contest is sure to be an exciting one. Located in Philadelphia, PA during the Food Distribution Research Society’s annual meeting, student teams will be challenged to apply their knowledge of food distribution, economics, management, marketing, and/or merchandising to a real-world situation. Teams will be expected to play the role of consultants competing for the account of a mystery company over this two day event and will make their bid presentation to a company executive.

The top three teams will split the $1000 prize money.


Teams consist of three to five students and may be composed of both undergraduate and masters students. The majority of the members on each team must be undergraduate students. Teams of three or four members can have one student who is pursuing a Masters degree, and teams of five could have two students who are pursuing a Masters degree.

Details of the company and challenge will be withheld until the beginning of the competition. However, registered teams will receive detailed instructions on what they may bring and some guidance on topics to research two weeks prior to the contest.

The winners of  the Marketing Case Competition will be recognized at Sunday’s general reception, which all students are encouraged to attend. Students are also encouraged to register for the remainder of the conference. A special student rate is available for those that would like to stay for the conference.


Team registration fees are $350 per team (up to 5 team members). Team registration fee helps to pay for meals, refreshments and the Sunday reception. To register a team go to the registration form for the conference:

Registration coming soon!

If you have questions about the competition, please contact:

Dr. Lindsey Higgins
Dr. Lurleen Walters


Objectives of the Food Distribution Research Society’s Marketing Case Competition

After competing in the Marketing Case Competition, students interested in the food distribution value chain will be able to:

1)   Synthesize, evaluate, and propose solutions to a complex problem facing an existing firm in the food distribution value chain within a short time limit,

2)   Collaborate successfully with teammates to arrive at the solution,

3)   Develop a persuasive presentation that effectively communicates the solution to the problem, and

4)   Extemporaneously answer questions to defend the solution to the problem.

Definition of a Team

Student Marketing Case Competition teams consist of three to five students and may be composed of both undergraduate and masters students. The majority of the members on each team must be undergraduate students (no more than 50% of the team can be made up of masters students). Teams must pay a $350 registration fee before competing.


This contest is designed to test the student’s ability to address the case and develop a presentation as a team. Coaches are asked to do all of their coaching prior to the contest. Upon the “live” presentation of the case, coaches are asked to refrain from providing any direction, suggestions, guidance, or feedback to their teams. Coaches are welcome to serve a supporting role (e.g. bringing the students lunch), but are asked to refrain from discussing the case with their team or providing any sort of “coaching.” The contest chair reserves the right to disqualify teams that violate the coaching rule.

Preliminary Rounds Time and Questions (Presentation Rubric)

Each team will be allowed 15 minutes for an oral presentation twice during the preliminary rounds. Each team will be signaled at the end of 14 minutes and again at 15 minutes. Penalties for exceeding 15 minutes will be determined by the judges. Judges guidelines suggest a 1 point penalty per 10 seconds over the time limit.

The judges will be allotted 5 minutes to ask questions of each team in the preliminary rounds. The number of questions within the allotted time is unlimited. Judges do not need to use all 5 minutes.

Final Round Time and Questions

At the end of the preliminary rounds of competition, the top teams will be asked to come back and present in the final rounds of competition. Teams will be scheduled to present every 30 minutes. Teams are allocated 15 minutes for their oral presentation, 10 minutes for questions from the judges, with the remaining 5 minutes used for the judges to briefly consult one another on the team’s presentation.

Order of Presentation

Every team will have the opportunity to make their presentation twice during the preliminary rounds. Teams will be randomly drawn for order of presentation during the preliminary round(s). Teams are expected to present their proposals at the time indicated in the program. Teams that are more than five minutes late to the presentation will forfeit their turn. Teams may not watch any other team’s presentation during the preliminary rounds.  Coaches (of the presenting team and of other teams), FDRS members, and guests are welcome to watch the preliminary rounds of presentation, but should not enter the room or leave the room while the presentation is going on.

Teams that are selected for inclusion in the final round will be randomized again. Teams that are not chosen for the final round are encouraged to watch the finalists’ presentations. Once a team has presented in the finals, the team may watch the remaining finalists’ presentations.


Judges for both the preliminary round and the final round will be selected from the Food Distribution Research Society membership, conference attendees, and experts in the industry related to the live case study.  When possible, an executive from the case study firm will judge the final round with the possible help of additional judges.


Coming soon!

For more information on the Marketing Case Competition contact:

Dr. Lindsey Higgins
Dr. Lurleen Walters

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