UK students win international competition

UK students Ryan Murphy, Thomas Pierce and Clara Woods won the international Student Food Marketing Challenge.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Public Relations) – University of Kentucky students are world champion food marketers. The UK College of Agriculture Food and Environment team of Ryan Murphy, Thomas Pierce and Clara Woods recently won the Student Food Marketing Challenge sponsored by the Food Distribution Research Society.

In the international event, students acted as marketing consultants for The Seam, an agritech company based in Memphis, facing a real-world marketing or distribution challenge. The students used their knowledge and expertise in those disciplines plus management, economics and merchandising to help the company developed a marketing strategy for the launch of a new product.

The students were given the scenario two weeks prior to the competition and interviewed company representatives for additional information. With this knowledge, they created a 10-minute video outlining their recommendations. A group of judges selected the UK team as one of three groups to compete in the championship round. There, they presented their marketing ideas to the company’s CEO Mark Pryor via Zoom. In the championship round, the UK students defeated teams from two New Zealand universities.

“One thing that was very unique about our team this year was that each of us had different academic backgrounds,” said Pierce, an agricultural economics graduate student from Elizabethtown. “That diversity of knowledge really helped us develop a well-rounded presentation.”

Pierce was a veteran competitor. He participated in the challenge as part of last year’s team, which received an honorable mention in that competition.

This was the first time Murphy, a senior agricultural economics and finance major from Shelby County, and Woods, a senior majoring in marketing from Lexington, competed in the event.

“This win gives me a major confidence boost as I prepare to enter the workplace,” said Woods, who will graduate in December. “I was able to apply much of what I’ve learned in the classroom to this challenge, and that just reinforces the material that we learn in college can truly be applied to real-world scenarios.”

Murphy said soon after the competition began, he realized how well his agricultural economics classes, especially AEC 422: Agribusiness Management, had prepared them to tackle issues like they faced in the challenge.

“Winning the competition has definitely been a highlight of my academic experience in the College of Ag, and I am incredibly proud of the effort our team put into this,” he said. “At the end of our presentation, whether we won or lost, I knew we had put our best effort forward.”

Tim Woods, UK extension professor, is the team coach.

The students received $1,000 and a plaque.

This is the third Student Food Marketing Challenge championship for UK with additional wins coming in 2008 and 2014.

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