ssociations geared to top-level retail, wholesale and broker executives will continue to refine and improve their offerings to members in 1996. At a time when members are insisting on getting more value from trade events, organizations are pulling out all the stops to ensure those demands are answered.
The Food Marketing Institute intends to raise the consciousness of exhibitors about independent operators at its annual convention May 5 to 8 in Chicago. It will provide exhibitors with a list of independents in attendance and key facts about each one, based on information culled from questionnaires mailed to independents, according to Timothy Hammonds, president and chief executive officer. The association also will attempt to ease the burden on international registrants by sending them registration material and badges in advance of the show and facilitate exhibitors in the East building at McCormick Place by adding registration space there. FMI's Midwinter Executive Conference, slated for Jan. 14 to 17 in Boca Raton, Fla. -- a meeting for top-level executives only -- will focus on supercenters, industry consolidation, industry stockouts and the impact of growing international investments. FMI will also host the second-annual FMI AsiaMart Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in Hong Kong. AsiaMart originally was slated to be held once every two years, but attendance at October's initial event changed the association's mind, Hammonds said. "It was a big change to make it an annual event, but the attendance told us we could do it," he said. "We thought if we had 2,000 attendees we'd be credible. But we had close to 3,500 there. The exhibitors urged us to do it every year." The National Grocers Association will offer a new series of workshops at its annual convention Feb. 25 to 28 in Orlando, Fla., designed to seek practical solutions to "identified operations priorities," Thomas K. Zaucha, president and CEO, told SN. Those priorities, he said, include freshness, competitiveness, technology, category management, store management, human resources, marketing and store development. The convention also will feature two simultaneous conferences -- one on marketing, the other on store development -- that will feature tours to Orlando-area stores. During the association's Washington conference June 12 to 15, NGA will focus on such ongoing concerns as the baler issue, the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act and Occupational Safety and Health Administration reforms. "The key theme for us will be to look for greater regulatory relief," Zaucha said. The National-American Wholesale Grocers' Association will allocate additional time at its 1996 meeting for face-to-face meetings between executives, based on past success. The 1996 event is scheduled for March 3 to 5 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at Walt Disney World. The conference will eliminate group breakfasts and other tertiary events in favor of six more hours of strategic meetings between top-level wholesale and supplier executives -- for a total of 20 hours of convention time -- and nearly one-and-a-half hours more for operational meetings between middle-level buyers and sellers -- for a total of almost 15 hours. John Block, NAWGA president, said the name of the annual meeting will change in 1996 to the NAWGA Annual Business Conference and Partners Program "to more closely reflect the business-intensive nature of the meeting and the partnership approach that's consistent with Efficient Consumer Response." NAWGA also will hold a series of educational seminars throughout the year focusing on retail development (Jan. 20 to 23 in New Orleans); buyer-merchandiser skills (Feb. 4 to 7 in Tampa, Fla.); distribution skills (June 2 to 5 in St. Louis), and productivity (Oct. 27 to 30 in Miami). CIES will focus on how the food industry is likely to function 15 years from now at its 1996 Annual Executive Congress June 2 to 4 in Paris. "Based on what delegates to last year's Congress told us, our past vision of the future was not good enough to prepare us for what has arrived, and we need a new future," Richard Fedigan, vice president of strategic management programs and marketing services at CIES, told SN. CIES also will host its first Conference on ECR Europe Jan. 25 to 26 in Geneva, Switzerland; an environmental conference called "Greening of the Grocery Supply Chain" Oct. 7 to 9 in Dresden, Germany, and its Management Development Program Annual Congress (formerly the Young Executives Annual Congress) -- reserved for future top executives under age 36 -- Oct. 13 to 16 in Dublin. The National Food Brokers Association will stress its role in ECR during 1996 in a series of conferences and at its annual conventional Dec. 6 to 9 in Chicago. Meetings on NFBA's agenda will focus on activity-based management software (Jan. 23 to 25 in Los Angeles and April 1 to 3 in Charlotte, N.C.); technology (Feb. 28 to March 1 in New Orleans); management skills (March 6 and 7 in Arlington, Va., and Sept. 26 and 27 in Chicago), and general merchandise/health and beauty care (June 9 to 11 in San Diego). NFBA also will hold a strategic retreat for top-level manufacturers and brokers at its annual Executive Conference Aug. 7 to 9 in Colorado Springs, Colo.