The large-scale trade show format is falling out of step with the rapidly changing food industry, Leslie Sarasin, FMI’s president and chief executive officer, wrote in a statement to the organization’s members.
“FMI aims at all times to be as agile and as bold as required to serve the needs of our members as well as the broader food industry. Therefore, we must design new occasions more appropriate to the faster-paced rhythms of food retail, and in unique formats more attuned to the specific needs of our industry,” Sarasin said. “With the elimination of having to fill football fields’ worth of space as ‘The Show’ configuration required, FMI will be liberated to explore new, focused and more flexible events.
“Of course, even when it is right and for the best, change is difficult. We appreciate the understanding of our members, partners, supporters, vendors, the city of Chicago [site of the annual FMI Connect] and friends as we work through the many implications this tough decision has for us and, more importantly, as we shape future directions for our members and their trading partners.
“The industry we serve is learning it must rethink and, when appropriate, redesign all aspects of its business, including everything from customer service to checkout, and from the number of items on the shelves to innovative ways of getting products to shoppers. Likewise, FMI must adapt and look with fresh eyes at the opportunities this new frontier holds, even when it requires letting go of old methods that hold places in our hearts. “
The decision means that the FMI Connect originally scheduled to be held in Chicago next June has been canceled, she said.
“At FMI we continue to believe that events designed to bring together the entire food retail industry and their partners for meaningful conversation, education, exploration and networking are desired and needed, but we have concluded these gatherings should occur in a framework that differs from the current FMI Connect design. We also recognize that in recent years this event has fallen short of achieving the precise formula necessary for meeting today’s industry needs, particularly as the industry continues to change and evolve so quickly.”