CHICAGO -- The Food Marketing Institute last week presented John Greeniaus, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Nabisco, with its William H. Albers Award for Industry Relations.
The award, made here at the FMI's annual Chairman's Dinner and Reception, recognizes food-industry leaders who foster communication and understanding between suppliers and distributors and who are active in community organizations.
In making the presentation, FMI Chairman Mike Wright said Greeniaus was instrumental in drafting the first report on Efficient Consumer Response and helping to launch the Efficient Foodservice Response concept as well.
"[Greeniaus] made ECR a major priority at his company -- in this case, leading by example," said Wright, who is also chairman, president and chief executive officer of Supervalu, Minneapolis. "He had the company focus intensely on category management and its application to products delivered directly to stores. This emphasis served his own company, and it was also quite beneficial to all retailers.
"The manner in which his company implemented category management also reflects his commitment to ensure that the entire industry benefits."
Greeniaus said that as little as 10 years ago, the gap between supplier and distributor was a wide one, fraught with mistrust.
"Communication was polite, but not deep," he said. "Cooperation was the exception, not the rule.
"Now, there is a willingness to work together better," he added. "Cooperation and trust
have grown significantly." He said such progress was "a reflection of FMI leadership."
Wright said Greeniaus and his wife, Sheridan, are active in the United Way and the Seeing Eye, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping the sightless. He is also a board member of Atlantic Health Systems, a New Jersey-based health care organization.
The FMI also honored the Rev. Jesse Jackson for his support of the FMI's Supplier Diversity Program.
Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition helped to bring 20 minority suppliers here to participate in the FMI Annual Convention.
"Something good is happening in this country, and in this industry," said Jackson, whose appearance came as a surprise to many attendees.
He said by removing "cultural blinders," food-industry leaders could reap financial benefits by involving and catering to the many diverse populations within U.S. borders.