FMI Honors Retailers, Suppliers at Midwinter Conference

WASHINGTON -- As if he weren't busy enough with the acquisition of one of the country's largest supermarket chains, Minneapolis-based Supervalu c.e.o. and FMI board chair Jeff Noddle yesterday presented three of FMI's awards during the association's 2006 Midwinter Executive Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.:

--The William H. Albers Industry Relations Award went to PepsiCo, Inc. chairman and c.e.o. Steven S. Reinemund. The award recognizes statesmanship and commitment to forging alliances that benefit the entire food industry.

"One of the things you can't miss about Steve is his passion for fitness and health, which is now benefiting the entire industry and consumers through a series of initiatives designed to promote healthy lifestyles," said Noddle. "In 2003 his company removed trans fats from all Frito-Lay products -- and this was before the labeling law was even enacted. Under Steve's leadership PepsiCo kept on reducing sugar, fat, and sodium in existing products, and delivering entirely new products that contribute to healthier lifestyles."

Noddle recognized Reinemund and PepsiCo for making it easier for consumers to find more than 100 of its healthier products by launching the "Smart Spot" symbol in 2004. Products carrying the logo meet nutrition criteria set by the FDA and the National Academy of Sciences.

Reinemund was also honored for leading PespiCo's efforts to help the nation's children through a venture with the Discovery Channel. The company teamed with Discovery to address childhood obesity by teaching kids the concept of energy balance -- reducing calories consumed and increasing calories burned. This program is now reaching millions of elementary- and secondary-school students.

Other considerations behind the award were Reinemund's being a strong advocate of free trade, promoting workplace diversity, streamlining distribution, and encouraging the use of technology to make the industry more responsive to consumers.

--The Glen P. Woodard Award for Public Affairs went to Wakefern Food Corp. chairman and c.e.o. Joe Colalillo, for the company's outstanding leadership in government affairs.

"Our industry is fortunate to have many individuals serving as strong advocates for our policies and positions," said Noddle. "In Wakefern we have an army that can speak for both independents and wholesale distributors. The family-owned companies that comprise Wakefern were instrumental in showing Congress why the estate tax must be killed. Joe's own company [Shop Rite of Hunterdon County] made one of the strongest cases, since the tax stymied growth and job creation through the nineties after his father passed away."

Noddle also acknowledged Wakefern's efforts to repeal mandatory country-of-origin labeling, and its effort to educate Congress, public officials, and the news media about the cost of credit and debit card interchange fees, along with the contributions Wakefern has made to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The Sidney R. Rabb Award went to Hy-Vee, Inc. chairman Ronald D. Pearson, for a lifetime of exceptional service to the community, consumers, and the industry.

"Few people have given as much to our industry and the communities we serve in so many ways: food safety, technology, diversity, disaster relief, economic growth, education, children's health, and more," noted Noddle. "Over the past 15 years he has led numerous industrywide initiatives as one of FMI's most active leaders."

These initiatives included serving as co-chair of FMI's Managing Diversity Task Force in the mid-1990s, chair of the FMI Member Services Committee that launched MarkeTechnics, and chairing FMI from 2001 through 2003, "a period marked by major government victories and new food-safety initiatives," said Noddle.

Noddle also recognized the company's support of numerous charities. "In Ron Pearson the industry is fortunate to have a leader who truly loves the business, his associates, and his customers," he said. "[Pearson] is a visionary who knows how to turn dreams into action, benefiting the industry and society in countless ways."
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