WASHINGTON -- The Food Marketing Institute here will put a private-label pavilion on the exhibit floor for the first time at its annual convention in Chicago next year, a move some observers say is a sign of the continued strength of store brands.
The pavilion will consist of 6,300 square feet and feature displays from 10 to 20 companies, said Sherrie Rosenblatt, a spokeswoman for FMI.
The pavilion was added to the floor plan after attendees indicated a desire to see more private-label products, Rosenblatt said.
"We strive to have the exhibit floor reflect the makeup of the industry," she said. "Private-label products certainly play an important role."
One private-label director with a large Southern chain welcomed the addition of a private-label pavilion to the show.
"It will give those interested in private label another opportunity to see some product opportunities," he said. He added that he doesn't think it will hurt the Private Label Manufacturers Association's annual trade show, which is scheduled for Nov. 12 to 15, 1995, in Chicago.
Brian Sharoff, president of New York-based PLMA, agreed. He told SN that FMI's new pavilion is "clear evidence of the permanent role store brands play in supermarkets today. It helps validate private label as a permanent part of the store. Clearly, private label is not recession-related. Clearly, it's not a fad," he said.
Tuck Jasper, president and chief executive officer of Shurfine International, a Chicago-based private-label distributor that has reserved space in FMI's new pavilion, concurred with Sharoff's
"I think it's a recognition by FMI of the high unit sales of private label and the fact that the people who attend their show are actively seeking information about it."
Jasper said the PLMA show is different from FMI's show, because the former association's show targets a specific audience. He said many manufacturers use the PLMA show for vendor meetings, while FMI's show attracts more retailers.
"I think the PLMA show will be complemented by FMI having private label at its show," he said, adding that FMI's show attracts a lot of foreign attendees and will give private label manufacturers a chance to meet them.
"We're not competing with other shows. We're simply offering something our attendees asked for," Rosenblatt said. "It's our position that many people come to FMI to write up business they've started at other trade shows."
Pavilions at FMI, she said, are usually set off by different-colored carpeting and signs. "It will give those interested in that aspect of the trade a concentrated area to conduct their business," she said.
The convention's seminar slate has not yet been set, but Rosenblatt said private-label issues will be addressed in some manner.
"We're committed to having what's on the floor also be included in the educational workshops," she said. FMI is also adding a warehouse and distribution pavilion to its 1995 show, scheduled for May 7 to 10 in Chicago.