Recently, I had the opportunity to attend FMI 2010, the Food Marketing Institute’s largest gathering of grocery industry retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers in the country. The event always brings back great memories for me and I can still remember attending with my dad when I was 12 years old. A lot of things have changed since then – pretty sure 5 Hour Energy didn’t have a booth back in 1982 – but the networking, sneak peeks at the latest innovations, and ever-present tasty treats are all key to event’s ongoing success.
I was able to attend several seminars and was inspired by the message delivered by keynote speaker Eric Weihenmayer. Despite losing his vision at the age of 13, Eric is an avid downhill skier, skydiver and rock climber. In 2001 he became the only blind man in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Eric’s message on learning to transcend perceived limitations and use adversity as a springboard for success was incredible.
After the seminars, I got to spend some time on the exhibitor show floor and it was great to see a variety of both established companies, like Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola, and those companies making their first appearance. Many times the new products or display cases that we get at our Festival locations come from concepts that we first saw at this convention. One such example would be the open air seafood cases that we’ve been considering for our stores. We love the idea of being able to bring our fresh seafood products closer to the customer but weren’t comfortable making a big change like this based on a picture in a brochure; being able to see the actual case at the show was very helpful.
While consolidation in the grocery industry has reduced the number of attendees in recent years, manufactures and wholesalers continue to step up their game. Those of us in attendance were granted access to cutting-edge products and fresh new ideas for growing our businesses. As always, I walked away from the event having a renewed enthusiasm for finding ways to bring our Festival guests a clean store, friendly people, quality products, exceptional value and an enjoyable shopping experience.