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Escaping the Snow

There’s no doubt about it: If trade shows in the winter didn’t exist, they would have to be invented, just so people in snow-battered regions like the Northeast would have someplace warm to escape to.

Weather permitting, I am headed Sunday to Orlando, Fla., where temperatures will reach a high of 71 – a nice, albeit brief, respite from the brutal winter we are experiencing in New York and Connecticut. Of course, most of my time once I get there will be spent indoors, so the weather really doesn’t matter that much.

Orlando’s J.W. Marriott Grande Lakes is the site of this year’s Supply Chain Conference, sponsored by the FMI-GMA Trading Partner Alliance. Everywhere you turn these days, there’s talk of collaboration between retailers and manufacturers, and this conference is another attempt to make that happen. The supply chain is certainly one area where retailers and manufacturers should collaborate if they aren’t already.

Many of the sessions will feature at least one retailer and manufacturer, which will make for a good dynamic. For example, on Monday morning, James Koskan of Supervalu and Mary Long of Campbell Soup will talk about their respective worker-safety practices, and Mark Chandler of Price Chopper will join Barry Henderson of Nestle Purina PetCare in a discussion of how their companies are working together to improve inventory turns and reduce unsaleables.

Speaking of unsaleables, it will be nice to cover a session touching on that topic since the FMI/GMA Unsaleables Conference has been closed to the press since 2003. I attended it in 2002 –in Newport, R.I., during the summer, a wonderful spot for that time of year – and haven’t been back since. Unsaleables is an area where collaboration is not always so smooth and tensions tend to flare, so I guess the participating companies are not keen on having that publicized. Still, I think coverage of the Unsaleables Conference would be a net plus for the industry.