ARLINGTON, Va. — Food Marketing Institute is returning to an annual trade show format next year, but Future Connect will live on in some form, Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer, FMI, told SN.
“There’s no question we will continue to operate Future Connect in some format going forward,” she said of the alternate-year training and development conference that launched in 2009. “It is not clear how we will handle it going forward, but it is clear we will have Future Connect in some form.”
The return of the annual FMI Show in 2014 (Chicago’s McCormick Center, June 10-13) will incorporate some Future Connect educational components, she explained.
The inclusion of elements of Future Connect is just one of the changes planned for the return of the annual FMI Show, Sarasin said. The association is also looking at other ways to enhance the show and create opportunities for retailer-supplier collaboration and interaction.
Among the planned components of the new FMI Show — details of which are expected to be released sometime this summer — are a culinary component, continuing a theme that began at the 2012 FMI Show with a supermarket chef competition, as well as components focusing on the consumer and on store-level operations.
In conducting a review of its own operations and member needs to create a strategic plan for the years ahead, FMI determined that there was a demand for enhanced collaboration among industry partners, and having an annual show was seen as a key component of that.
“The logic is that while the landscape of the industry certainly has changed in the last decade, there still exists the need to have face-to-face meetings and interactions, and to have an environment where we can learn together rather than in isolation,” Sarasin said.
She said the revamped FMI Show “will be a big investment on the part of FMI to make sure it is successful.”
“While we will be going back [to an every-year show], it is not about the past, but about the future,” Sarasin said. “It will be about creating an event that is forward thinking, and that reflects the future of our industry.”
Similarly, this year’s Future Connect, set to kick off April 29 in Orlando, Fla., will also feature tools for the industry to address its future. In addition to its four development tracks focusing on different areas of industry management, FMI will also present data from its annual Speaks and Trends reports that promises to be “more far-reaching” than in past years, Sarasin said.
The Trends data this year have been compiled from several different research partners working with FMI, including Booz & Co., Nielsen, Catalina and Crossmark.
“It will be a compendium of information that we think today’s retailer has to be aware of,” Sarasin explained. “The data is not altogether positive — there are challenges for this industry. We will share what we learned from the data, what we think it means, and importantly how retailers and suppliers of products can work together to use this information to make their businesses stronger in the years to come.
“We are making our trends information more about what retailers can do in the future, rather than just what has happened in the past.”
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