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A Global Food Retail Experience


“Everyone to the table.”

That’s the tagline for this year’s FMI Connect event, and one that resonates with retailers selling to consumers who connect with one another — and indirectly, with those who produce and provide their food — at the table, whether it’s a traditional dinner table at home, a bistro table inside a grocerant, or, for that matter, a work desk or soccer field that doubles as a place to eat on the go.

On another level, the event itself is a coming together of industry leaders in a similarly communal way to determine and set trends, share consumer insights, exchange ideas and information on technology, meet one-on-one with suppliers, sharpen leadership development skills, and discover innovations across the industry.

“FMI Connect is designed to literally bring everyone in the grocery industry to the table to share ideas, products, partnerships and professional development so that attendees can realize their greatest ambitions,” says Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute. “Together, we’ll explore fresh prepared and omnichannel trends that are changing the way we do business; make the mental, emotional and social connections that spark creativity; and globally showcase the innovative thinking taking place in our industry that is shaping the future of food retailing.”

The invitation to “everyone” in the industry reflects a truly global focus on delivering food products that shoppers want and need. This year’s FMI Connect includes international food companies and organizations from across three continents, as FMI bolsters its international platform.

From all corners of the world, more than 12,500 industry professionals will gather June 20–23 at McCormick Place Convention Center, in Chicago. Those who comprise the food retail business, including wholesalers, merchandisers, operations personnel, CIOs and CTOs, will discover new ideas and products while creating and strengthening partnerships and enhancing their own professional development.

Highlights of FMI Connect include an expansive expo featuring displays from more than 450 exhibitors, and 40 educational sessions led by a full roster of seasoned presenters. To help partners connect in a more direct way, FMI Connect is offering the Connect Business Exchange (CBX), a free tool for show guests that matches food retailers and suppliers for 30-minute one-on-one business meetings.

Just as the global food retail market includes a spate of new products, this year’s FMI Connect features new or expanded offerings for visitors headed to the Windy City to harness the winds of change in the industry. Among those new/expanded offerings are a greater focus on supermarket chefs, the reintroduction of the CBX, a Fresh and Prepared Zone featuring ready-to-eat products that appeal to Millennials, a Health and Lifestyle Zone, Meet and Learn Power Hours with roundtable discussions led by exhibitors, and the FMI Tech Bar.

In this era of interconnectedness and immediacy, FMI Connect is linking industry professionals in other ways. The Chicago event is co-located with the International Floriculture Expo, United Fresh 2016 and, new this year, Global Cold Chain Expo.

Beyond Chicago, FMI Connect is also teaming up with the Summer Fancy Food Show, in New York. FMI and the Specialty Food Association, which puts on the Fancy Food Show, are working together to offer incentives to international food industry executives to attend both shows. The Summer Fancy Food Show runs June 26–28 at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

FMI Invites Everyone to the Table June 2016

FMI Connect is an energizing, eye-opening experience for first-timers and longstanding industry leaders alike. A strategic break from the day-to-day, FMI Connect fuels creative ideas, boosts morale and gets your people excited about new possibilities in food retail. With three days in Chicago, you’ll not only strengthen your team, but also your business.

Bringing more people to FMI Connect multiplies the number of meetings your company can conduct with trading partners in the CBX forum and broadens the variety of workshops that can be covered, thereby amplifying the knowledge brought back to the office. Your tech leaders will surely want to participate in Pulse: Technology Enabling the Path to Modern Retailing — an all-new event for 2016. We’ll be tackling all angles of omnichannel, with the goal of providing actionable information and insights on leveraging technology to better serve your customers and increase your profitability. Additionally, make sure your buying teams allow plenty of time to explore the latest innovations and trends in the FMI Expo.

Taking place alongside FMI Connect, Future Leaders empowers your high-potential employees and developing leaders with supermarket-specific leadership skills, personal growth tools, confidence and connections. The program fosters a solid working rapport between current leaders and their mentees, and creates a dialogue on important issues of change, innovation and breakthrough thinking.

Both events provide a great team-building experience and reward the right people, broaden their perspectives, strengthen their commitment to your organization and give them the skills to lead it. I’m sure you will agree that there isn’t a better investment your company could make.

I hope you will join me for this exciting event! Please visit to learn more.

Best Regards,
Leslie G. Sarasin
President and CEO Food Marketing Institute

Head of the Table: Speakers and Presenters

This year’s FMI Connect features marquee-name culinary experts and industry professionals who have their fingers on the pulse of consumers around the world. These experts will share their insight in 40-plus educational sessions that include keynote presentations and down-in-the-details workshops.

“Within the breakouts, general sessions and expo education, the lineup of speakers focuses on exploring trends and innovations,” remarks Carol Abel, VP, education for FMI. “For example, we have a breakout session on winning strategies in consumer-centric retail health care. Consulting firm Oliver Wyman has found that connecting with the consumer’s focus on health, wellness and nutrition preferences has implications for center store products for a retailer to consider.”

Again placing the emphasis on “Everyone at the Table,” three general sessions will bring together attendees in one setting to train the spotlight on trends that affect all facets of food retailing:

Steve Case
Chairman and CEO
Revolution LLC
“The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future”
Case, co-founder of AOL, is chairman of the company that introduced LivingSocial, Zipcar and Revolution Foods. He will share insights from his new book on entrepreneurialism and provide a road map for those in the food retail business to cut through a world of rapidly changing technology. (The first 1,500 attendees of this session get a free copy of Case’s book.)

Leslie G. Sarasin
President and CEO
Food Marketing Institute
“The Ins and Outs of Shopper Thinking: An Exploration of 2016 U.S. Grocery Shopping Trends”
When it comes getting inside shoppers’ heads, Sarasin relies on a veritable brain trust. In this session, she’ll reveal the top findings of FMI’s “2016 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends” report and share insights on what today’s customers expect, from store design to product assortment to staff interaction.

Leslie G. Sarasin, President and CEO, FMI
Mario Batali, chef, restaurateur and co-host of ABC’s “The Chew”
Robert Irvine, chef and host of Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible” “Riding the Wave of Food Trends”
Sarasin talks with culinary stars Batali and Irvine about which food trends are waves worth riding. Also in this session, FMI will celebrate the winners of its annual Store Manager Awards.

A series of co-located Future Leaders sessions from FMI’s leadership training program will take place at FMI Connect as well, designed for high-potential employees and current leaders alike. Highlights include sessions on “Building World Class Teams: The 8 Essential Elements of Human Synergy,” led by Robyn Benincasa, a best-selling author and world-champion adventure racer, and “Making the Most of Uncertainty: Changing Markets, Changing Times,” led by Garrison Wynn, author of “The REAL Truth About Success.”

“We’ve timed Future Leaders during FMI Connect so attendees can get the biggest bang for their buck,” says Abel. “The integration is designed to help our future leaders practice what they’re learning and network with the industry, and provides a chance for them to see beyond their daily tasks and glimpse the entire food retail universe.”

According to Abel, the Future Leaders program enables emerging leaders to become more agile, transform and prosper in this ever-changing industry. “The leadership program delivers an ideal learning experience with six in-depth sessions and eight hands-on workshops designed to help participants share challenges and best practices,” she says.

Also part of FMI Connect, Pulse: Technology Enabling the Path to Modern Retailing, is an invitation-only event that brings together CIOs, VPs, and senior marketing, merchandising and sales professionals from both retailers and CPGs to talk about changes in the industry, opportunities to improve omnichannel profitability and enhancing the shopping experience.

Hosted by FMI, Progressive Grocer and its sister publication Retail Leader, Pulse sessions include Shelly Palmer, of Palmer Advanced Media, and Nadia Shourboura, of Hointer Inc. Additionally, a panel of retailers from Safeway, Roche Bros., Ahold’s bfresh/Fresh Formats LLC and Wakefern Corp. will discuss “Getting IT Right: The E-Commerce, Mobile, Analytics and Store Revolution.”

Experts at the Expo

This year’s FMI Expo at FMI Connect features hundreds of exhibitors offering a close and often first look at a variety of fresh and perishable products, packaged grocery items and frozen products. Attendees will discover innovations in retail technology, store equipment and design, health and wellness, and corporate services, among other segments.

The expo brings people to the proverbial table in other ways to share ideas and learn something new, via live events in the FMI Learning Lounge and the FMI Impact Area, where culinary experts Mario Batali and Robert Irvine will entertain and educate attendees on the show floor.

Other hallmarks of the FMI Expo are the Pavilion and Zone areas, spotlighting topics and trends including:

Tech Zone: Featuring “Tech Byte” talks, Happy Hour and a demo of the “Foodini.”

Chef Showcase: A gathering of culinary professionals who share menu and ingredient trends and talk about what’s working for fresh, prepared and in-store dining.

Pulse: An event-within-an-event, presented by Progressive Grocer and Retail Leader, that allows attendees to tap into transformative technology (

Health and Lifestyle Zone: A showcase of opportunities to connect with customers seeking healthy choices, solutions and wellness programs.

Food Safety Zone: The place for industry professionals and leaders to learn more about FSMA and certification options.

Fresh & Prepared Zone: Learn how to expand this part of the business with 20-minute “Fresh Bite” presentations, cooking demos and vendor solution partners.

FMI Bistro: Lunch or snacks are served up right on the Expo floor.

CBX: The Connect Business Exchange is a place for one-on-one meetings.

Private Brands Zone: Participants can check out new opportunities in private brands through “Brand Bites” presentations, vendor solution partners and interactive sampling from a special food truck.

International Pavilions: Go around the world and talk to food retailing suppliers from leading food production countries such as Italy, China, Greece, Thailand and Mexico.

2016 FMI Connect Schedule at a Glance


7 a.m.–5 p.m.: Registration open

Noon–5 p.m.: CBX-Connect Business Exchange open


7 a.m.–4 p.m.: Registration open

7 a.m.–9:30 a.m.: CBX-Connect Business Exchange open

8 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: Education Workshops

8 a.m.–8:50 a.m.: Innovations in Center Store: Category Strategies You Can Use

8 a.m.–8:50 a.m.: Making E-Commerce Profitable: Lessons from European Grocers

8 a.m.–8:50 a.m.: The Golden Rule Revolution: Engaging the Next Generation

8 a.m.–8:50 a.m.: Are You Ready for the New FSMA Sanitary Transportation Mandate?

8:45 a.m.–9:45 a.m.: Opening General Session: Building World Class Teams: The 8 Essential Elements of Human Synergy

9 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: Applying Global Food and Flavor Trends to Private Brands

9 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: Serving Shoppers Better: The Industry Paradigm Shift from Category Management to Shopper-Centric Retailing

9 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: Prepared Foods Innovation … Relevant Trends for Every Segment

9 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: Winning Strategies in Consumer-Centric Retail Healthcare

10 a.m.–11 a.m.: The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future

11 a.m.–4 p.m.: Expo open

11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Standing Tall In Leadership: How to Initiate and Manage Necessary Conversations at Work (Leading Others track)

11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: “Brand Me” – Developing Your Authentic Brand (Developing Yourself track)

11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.: FMI Bistro open

11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.: CBX-Connect Business Exchange meetings

Noon–1:30 p.m.: Political luncheon with special guest Charlie Cook

12:15 p.m.–1 p.m.: Five Top Trends in Fresh Foods You Can Use to Accelerate Growth

1:30 p.m.–2:45 p.m.: The Secrets to Building a High-Performance Team. (Leading Others track)

1:30 p.m.–2:45 p.m.: Unleash the Power of YOU! (Developing Yourself track)

2 p.m.–2:45 p.m.: Desserts! By Award Winning Chef Luca Manfe from Bauli!

2:15 p.m.–3 p.m.: Using Beacon Technology to Engage Shoppers

3 p.m.–3:45 p.m.: General Session: Innovation and Creativity: Flying Outside the Box

4 p.m.–5 p.m.: The Ins and Outs of Shopper Thinking: an Exploration of “2016 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends”

6 p.m.–9 p.m.: Opening Night Celebration at the Field Museum


7 a.m.–9:30 a.m.: CBX-Connect Business Exchange open

7 a.m.–4 p.m.: Registration open

8 a.m.–8:50 a.m.: Creating Fresh Destinations Throughout the Perimeter

8 a.m.–8:50 a.m.: Driving Private Label Sales Through Digital Execution

8 a.m.–8:50 a.m.: Managing the Cash Transaction at the Point of Sale: Mobile or Traditional Stack

8 a.m.–9 a.m.: General Session: Crafting Your Company Culture to Get Uncommon Results

8 a.m.–8:50 a.m.: 2020 Retail Food Channel Vision for GM and HBC Categories

8:30 a.m.–9:45 a.m.: Pulse Visionary Speaker Breakfast: Succeeding in a Complex, Competitive, Connected World

9 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: Checkout Solutions: Consumer Impulse in Action

9 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: Are You At Cyber-Risk? Hidden Pitfalls Executives Need to Know

9 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: How Do You Get a Seat at the Table for National Family Meals Month?

9 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: The Power of Produce: An In-Depth Look at Produce through the Shoppers’ Eyes

9 a.m.–9:45 a.m.: General Session: Good Is Not Enough: Leveraging Inclusion in Today’s Marketplace

10 a.m.–11 a.m.: Riding the Wave of Food Trends

11 a.m.–4 p.m.: Expo open

11 a.m.–2 p.m.: Future Leaders attendees at the FMI Expo

11:30 a.m.–12:30: p.m.: Explore Food Trends with Mario Batali and Kevin Davis

11:30 a.m.– 3:30 p.m.: CBX-Connect Business Exchange meetings

11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.: FMI Bistro open

12:30 p.m.– 1:30 p.m.: Robert Irvine (live)

12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.: FSMA: What Every Retailer Should Know

1 p.m.–1:45 p.m.: Top Trends in Global Private Brands Innovation

2 p.m.–3:15 p.m.: Translating Vision into Tactical Goals (Leading Others track)

2 p.m.–3:15 p.m.: Hardcore Soft Skills: A Leader’s Guide to Understanding, Engaging, and Inspiring Others (Developing Yourself track)

3 p.m.–4 p.m.: Pulse Visionary Speaker: How Technology Will Completely Reshape Food Retailing in 2016

3 p.m.–3:45 p.m.: Desserts! By Award Winning Chef Luca Manfe from Bauli!

3:30 p.m.–4:45 p.m.: Unconscious No More (Leading Others track)

3:30 p.m.–4:45 p.m.: How to Listen So People Can Hear You (Leading Others track)

4 p.m.–5 p.m.: Private Brands/Fresh & Prepared Reception

4 p.m.–5 p.m.: Independent Operator Reception

4 p.m.–5 p.m.: Pulse Zone Cocktail Reception

6 p.m.–9 p.m.: Wednesday Night Industry Celebration

7 p.m.–9 p.m.: Independent Operator Dinner

7 p.m.–9 p.m.: Pulse Dinner


7 a.m.–2 p.m.: Registration open

8 a.m.–9 a.m.: General Session: Reality-Based Leadership

8:30 a.m.–9:45 a.m.: Pulse Visionary Breakfast Retailer Panel: Getting IT Right: The E-Commerce, Mobile, Analytics and Store Revolution

9 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: Developing Your Talent: Department Manager Survey Report

9 a.m.–9:50 a.m.: Grocery Digital Influencers: How Bloggers and Instagrammers Are “Foodfluencers”

9:15 a.m.–10:15 a.m.: Closing General Session: Making the Most of Uncertainty: Changing Markets, Changing Times

10 a.m.–2 p.m.: Expo open

10:15 a.m.–11 a.m.: Engaging the Shopper in Today’s Rapidly Changing Shopping Rituals

11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.: FMI Bistro open

12:15 p.m.–1 p.m.: Talking with Your Consumers About Labeling Transparency

1 p.m.–5 p.m.: Retail Dining, Culinary and Design Trends tour


9 a.m.–2 p.m.: All Day Chicago Food Retail Tour

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