One of the industry's largest suppliers of frozen potato, appetizer and vegetable products,ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, Eagle, Idaho, said it formed the "Lamb Weston Collaborative," an educational research forum for restaurant industry leadership.

The Collaborative will involve 10 to 13 chain restaurant executives who will attend two strategic sessions. The first session will be held this November at Harvard Faculty Club, Cambridge, Mass., followed by a Spring 2010 session at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. The events will explore industry issues such as the influence of value pricing and the role of consumer emotion as it relates to brand loyalty.

“Current economic pressures call for innovative perspectives that challenge traditional business practices,” said Jeff DeLapp, president of ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston. “As both an industry leader and partner to our customers, we are obligated to advance the industry’s goals and work with our customers to shape the future. We are delighted that the Collaborative allows us to do both."

The academic host for the inaugural event on November 19th is Harvard Business School consumer behavior researcher Gerald Zaltman, Ph.D., the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus. He will preside over the first session with Lou Carbone, CEO of Experience Engineering, Inc. Zaltman and Carbone are globally recognized thought leaders and the authors of the award-winning, best-selling business books, How Customers Think (Harvard Business Press) and Clued In: How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again (Prentice Hall).

CEO of Brinker International and Lamb Weston Collaborative Industry Advisor Doug Brooks said the insights generated by the Collaborative will not only prove invaluable to all in the industry, but that the insights will also be beneficial to consumers.

“It will be helpful to have collaboration that leads to a better understanding of consumer needs and desires,” Brooks said.

Yum Brands, Inc. Chief Operating and Development Officer Emil Brolick is supportive of the collaborative process. “Conducting this research will uncover how customers form emotional bonds to brands and the effect of value pricing on their behavior, which will prove to be very valuable learning for the entire industry,” he said.