FMI Advances Strategic Plan

Six months of committee work have resulted in the Food Marketing Institute’s new strategic plan, outlined this week at the group’s Midwinter Executive Conference.

The three- to five-year plan, based on interviews with members and stakeholders focused on enriching FMI’s value to members, was explained by FMI President/CEO Leslie Sarasin and FMI Chairman Fred Morganthall, president/CEO of Harris Teeter, to a Monday-morning audience at the gathering in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The plan identifies five strategic initiatives:

- Strengthen FMI’s core proposition through specific enhancements in government relations, food safety, being the voice of retailers and emerging issues.

- Revive the FMI Show as the industry’s annual focal event.

- Lead total store collaboration by creating an industry-wide forum to deliver tangible results.

- Grow membership by upgrading its capabilities to better serve members.

- Upgrade the group’s operating model through robust financials, improved governance principles and effective member communication.

In addition, FMI aims to strengthen its voice on behalf of the food retailing industry by taking ownership of key issues including fresh foods, health and wellness, sustainability, asset protection and supply chain.

Sarasin said FMI members expressed a desire for more work on government relations to influence legislators and regulators. To that end, she said, the group plans to “take collaboration and team work to new levels” in order to “have a stronger voice on behalf of the industry.”

An important aspect of that will be extending discussion of food safety issues beyond government to the public, Sarasin added. “Every issue is a potential crisis,” she said.

Morganthall said the industry needs more reliable food safety science to help combat misinformation, especially the likes of which that tends to spread unchecked online.

Sarasin said FMI needs to “deepen the ways we can help members with reputation management” through more fierce public promotion of the industry, which she described as noble, but “part of what makes it noble is the reticence to discuss the good the industry does.”

Reinstituting the annual show will drive home the importance of “real human interaction” in advancing the industry, Sarasin said. Added Morganthall, “Things are changing so fast, an annual show is necessary to keep pace.”

Meanwhile, total store collaboration between retailer and supplier must take on a new image as a sort of “dynamic food wi-fi” encompassing various components, Sarasin said, rather than a traditional “linear chain.”

Additionally, FMI intends to leverage its existing relationships with other associations and improve communication with members so they can better take advantage of available resources.

Declared Sarasin: “We’re not going to rest until everyone who puts food on a shelf anywhere is a member of FMI.”

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