Ask a Librarian

Ask the FMI Librarian FMI's Information Service is the industry's premier information source with a complete reference collection of multi-media material including DVDs, videos, audiotapes, newspaper clippings, magazines, FMI reports and books about the industry. We have access to commercial online databases and the Internet. Our uniquely qualified staff has over 25 years of experience helping the industry research.

What kinds of questions can the FMI Information Service answer?
The FMI Information Service is a highly effective way to get the answers you need to make critical business decisions. In the last few months, members have asked about packaging trends in relation to private label products, gasoline programs that drive shopper loyalty, trends in online coupons, sustainability initiatives and changes in consumer shopping behavior. See a list of our frequently asked questions for some quick answers.

Who can access the Information Service?

  • Retailer/Wholesaler Members and Associate Members
    As a FMI member you have unlimited use of this wonderful resource! Simply call or email us with any research question you may have. We will get you an answer within 24 hours via email, phone or mail. You can also search the FMI Online Library.
  • Non-members
    If you are not a FMI member, we can provide you with quick reference service or a referral. Email us. More in-depth questions are best handled if you make an appointment to use the library and do your own research at our facilities in Arlington, VA. Appointments are Monday - Friday except on Wednesday from 1-5 pm. Copying facilities are available. We charge 20 cents per page. Call us at 202-452-8444 to make an appointment.

Not sure if you are eligible to be a member?
See the Join FMI section of the web site.

What materials from the Information Service are on the website?

Check out the Supermarket Facts area for key industry facts, lists of top food retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, a food glossary and much more.

  • Retailer/Wholesaler, Associate Members and non-members (limited access) are encouraged to use the FMI  Online Library. This database includes:
  • Food Industry Abstracts from a variety of trade and business journals  from 1988- present.
  • A Catalog of multi-media materials about the food distribution industry from FMI and other publishers. 
We do not abstract cover to cover, rather we will include the most substantive articles. For a list of the journals we abstract see our journal listing. If you have questions about the database or if you are having trouble finding what you need, call us (202-452-8444) or email us for assistance.

Ask the FMI Librarian Blog Posts

  • Celebrating National Library Week

    Ask the FMI Librarian Personally, I’ve had the great privilege to oversee the operations of the FMI Information Service for a very long time. Over the years, I’ve come to learn a lot about the food retail industry through the unique, rich resources housed in it and I’ve answered over 31,000 questions for members, staff and the general public using those resources.  I celebrate this library every day when it reveals the answer to a challenging question, or when it reminds me of a bit of industry history useful for a current project.  From history to emerging issues, it has it all.
  • Top 5 Food Retail FMI Library Treasures

    FMI LibraryIn honor of National Library Week, we’re celebrating the FMI Library and showcasing some of the food retail treasures in the collection. Here are our top five food retail treasures in the FMI Library
  • Ask the FMI Librarian: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year For Grocery!

    Ask the FMI Librarian What does the holiday season mean for grocery stores? In 1939 Franklin Roosevelt changed the date of the Thanksgiving holiday from the last Thursday in November to the second-to-last Thursday in November to allow retailers the benefit of more holiday season shopping days.  It wasn’t a popular decision.