FMI PLANS TO HOLD CONFERENCE ON BUSINESS OF NATURAL FOODS

WASHINGTON -- The Food Marketing Institute here is planning a conference to closely examine the burgeoning natural foods business.The conference is likely to be held sometime later this year, or early next year, said Sherrie Rosenblatt, manager of media relations at FMI.She said the exact details and location of the natural foods conference were still being worked out, but it would include input from

WASHINGTON -- The Food Marketing Institute here is planning a conference to closely examine the burgeoning natural foods business.

The conference is likely to be held sometime later this year, or early next year, said Sherrie Rosenblatt, manager of media relations at FMI.

She said the exact details and location of the natural foods conference were still being worked out, but it would include input from natural foods manufacturers.

The association is planning the conference in response to the industry's growing emphasis on natural foods, emerging on several fronts.

"Natural foods encompasses both dry grocery products and perishables," Rosenblatt said. "We are talking about natural food stores, traditional grocery stores that are getting more involved in natural foods, and those that just have a part of their store that is specific to natural foods," she said.

"We are referring to not just one type of store, but anybody who is getting involved at all in any area of the natural foods business. Anything from a health food store on down," she added.

Rosenblatt said a portion of the annual FMI Speaks report, which polls retailers and wholesalers about the competitive climate and the state of the industry, will also focus on natural foods.

In addition, FMI is sponsoring a workshop at its annual convention in May that examines the natural foods phenomenon by looking at the growth of natural foods and natural foods stores, and demographics and psychological consumer trends fueling the growth.