A new FMI Annual Convention Slated for 2008

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May 12, 2006
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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


FMI Makes Bold Bid to Re-Energize an Institution – Supermarket News

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9 Comments on "A new FMI Annual Convention Slated for 2008"


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David Livingston
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

I hate to see FMI leave Chicago but only for very selfish reasons. It’s just a short train ride away. Not only do I get to network with the superstars of the industry but with the local retailers as well. A big chunk of my business comes from networking at FMI.

Ron is right. Nobody wants to hear consultants talk. We want to hear what retailers have to say. By retailers, I don’t mean $40 million per year CEOs from public companies. We want to learn from owners of successful stores and chains like Wegmans, HEB, Publix, Hy-Vee, etc.

On another note, over the years I have seen a high corelation of how successful a chain is by the number of people they send to FMI. Seems like you could not walk down an aisle without running into somebody from Publix or Hy-Vee.

Jerry Tutunjian
Guest
Jerry Tutunjian
14 years 9 months ago

Yes, it’s time to make radical changes to the FMI tradeshow.

Moving it to other cities — for cost reasons — makes sense. A major problem in the alternate year idea is the delay involved.

Retailers need to know the latest in products and the latest in trends. Educational sessions, for example, which are held every two years might be dated and leave a data gap by the time they are unveiled.

David Zahn
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

Like many of the subscribers to this website, I walked the floor, spoke to the exhibitors, caught up with some old friends, and used the trade show to accomplish multiple tasks that were certainly made easier by virtue of being able to do it all within the confines of the show. However, the reduction in “decision-makers” available or even in attendance (admittedly, from the bias and perspective of a consultant selling to the industry) made it more difficult than in years past, and the fact that (in general) there are fewer booths and fewer attendees at the show sends a clarion call that it is time for a change.

I come down on the side of more education and less politics in selecting which speakers/presenters are chosen. Seeing the same “likely suspects” over and over at various shows left many that I spoke to about the issue feeling that the “best and most innovative or progressive” ideas are being too narrowly defined.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

In the book business, there used to be a national trade show once a year. Nowadays there’s a national trade show once a year as well as regional trade shows, each once a year. The regional as well as national shows are successful. All the shows have educational activities. The FMI might be better off with more frequent educational activities on a regional basis in addition to every other year national events.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
14 years 9 months ago
FMI lost its way years ago. Like many of its members, it failed to see the changes in the marketplace. As with all trade associations, consolidation in a mature market requires changes. Large chains do not need the show. Suppliers will be happy to travel to them. Consolidation also reduces the number of people that can attend a trade show. Using Mid-Winter as club to keep exhibitors at the annual surely did not make many friends. Years ago, the annual was important as an educational forum. Again, this was before consolidation. FMI stripped out successful topics into separate educational programs which reduced the annual’s attendance. Declining attendance at these programs has FMI looking to bring them back to the annual. Joining with other trade associations to fill up McCormick Place simply has not worked. Having an exhibition floor every year or every other year, like all marketing decisions, should be driven by the customers. Suppliers have been leaving due to increased cost coupled with decreasing attendance. Lowering the cost and greater customer service might help.… Read more »
Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
14 years 9 months ago

FMI became a major chore for most manufacturers years ago. The retail trade consolidated and the number of points of distribution decreased. Manufacturers became more attuned to the needs of individual customers and the “idea” of a big tent just didn’t work anymore. I would also say that the demise of the Robinson Patman act (which has as much clout as immigration law) also played a part because everyone now has a different deal. The fact that the show was in Chicago is also a factor in that it is very expensive. Additionally many of the members of the trade who do attend only stay for a portion of the show and most don’t walk the Hall. Chicago is a great city but to continue to spend large sums of money there and not be able to deliver a message just doesn’t make much sense. I really don’t regret the loss. The industry has changed and FMI serves little purpose today.

Mark Ossege
Guest
Mark Ossege
14 years 9 months ago

I have been in the grocery business for 35 years and never missed an FMI show. I quit going to the show the year after they pulled the MarkeTechnics portion of the show. They were trying to force me to attend both shows and I don’t have the time to attend both. The decision never made any sense to me since it was obvious that the FMI show was shrinking every year.

I thought that was the start of the FMI Food Show Decline. I was planning to start going again in 07 after they announced that they would combine the shows again. I think that would be the best decision to boost attendance.

Stuart Silverman
Guest
Stuart Silverman
14 years 9 months ago

What about MarkeTechnics? Earlier this year FMI said that they would fold MarkeTechnics into the main show. Is this now going to be an every other year event also? Or does FMI cede the technology conference to NRF and the Retail Systems Show? Lets hope that they retain some form of annual meeting for the technology sector. Food technology is so different from the rest of retail – it needs its own forum.

Dinkar Suri
Guest
Dinkar Suri
14 years 9 months ago

I have attended the FMI Show as an Overseas Visitor since 2002. Apart from the first visit, the following visits were repetitive – some benefit was derived but I guess marginal returns crept in. Many European Trade Shows are held once every two years to keep the novelty factor. The move to do something similar to FMI is understandable. Overseas visitors like me would like to see more participation by US based retailers and I hope with this change, this can be accomplished.

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