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Together at Last

Over the past few years when I have attended the Food Marketing Institute’s Supply Chain Conference, it would be co-located with the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s Information Systems and Logistics/Distribution Conference (IS/LD). Some of the educational sessions at the two conferences would be held jointly, but each conference would have its own array of sessions as well. Being one reporter, I would have to decide which conference’s sessions to cover, and that sometimes meant shuttling between the two.

Fortunately, FMI and GMA made the sound decision this year to jointly host one conference, the inaugural Supply Chain Conference, through what is called the FMI-GMA Trading Partner Alliance (TPA). The theme of the conference, which takes place primarily Feb. 1-2 in balmy Phoenix at the Marriott Desert Ridge, is “Bringing It All Together,” which makes a lot of sense. Most of what is talked about at supply chain/logistics/distribution conferences is how retailers and manufacturers stand to gain from collaborating with each other through programs like Better Ways of Working Together, data synchronization, data sharing, backhauling and many more programs. It’s really only one supply chain, with retailers and manufacturers just located at different ends, so they obviously benefit from spending more time together at a conference rather than in separate parts of the hotel.

Another key area of collaboration between retailers and manufacturers is around food safety so I’m glad to see the first day of the conference will have two sessions on that topic: “Food Safety: The Approaching Perfect Storm.” with two Meijer executives (including Bob Mooney, who often speaks at this conference about things like out-of-stocks), and “Effective Recall Execution: Consumer Safety Is in Your Hands,” with a slew of retailer and manufacturer representatives. I’m looking forward to what those folks have to say about what is among the top two or three issues facing the food industry today—maybe the biggest one.