A new FMI Annual Convention Slated for 2008
By Ronald Margulis
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) announced earlier this week that it is moving to a new format in which the trade expo will be held every other year with the group developing an educational conference with industry-leading research in the alternate year. This would allow for continuity in the industry’s messaging and for solid networking opportunities.
FMI reported that both shows could move out of Chicago to various locations around the country, but in any case things wouldn’t change until 2008. The reasons for the potential actions are well known to anyone attending this year’s show — slowing attendance by US (and Canadian) retailers, the absence of key suppliers like Procter & Gamble and a dearth of retailers on the educational program.
Several observers were optimistic about the change. David Orgel of Supermarket News wrote in his column this week: “The new plan has some advantages. For instance, bringing the show to new locations could inject regional excitement and draw more members from around the country, making the gathering less reliant on Midwest attendees. A truly innovative educational program with exclusive research would also be welcome. Perhaps the best element is that the leadership is allowing ample time for the industry to discuss the proposal before a decision is reached.”
There are still several questions to be answered, including what happens to the other groups exhibiting with FMI and what kind of program to offer in the alternate years. These issues and more will be addressed ahead of the FMI board meeting in October when the new structure will be put to a vote.
Moderator’s Comment: What does the future hold for the FMI annual convention?
There are solid precedents in the industry for holding a trade exhibit every other year – ANUGA is successful at it in Europe, as is the World Wide Food
Expo here at home. That isn’t going to be the challenge. What is going to be difficult for FMI to pull off is the educational conference during the alternate years. Most of the
workshops at the show this year featured consultants rather than retailers and manufacturers, and that isn’t going to work to attract a significant retail audience. –
Ronald Margulis – Moderator