By: Leslie G. Sarasin, President and CEO, Food Marketing Institute

Change is the operative word in the food retail industry these days.

Some changes have been obvious, especially when we rely on the regulatory environment as a Richter scale and apply all the new laws regarding food safety and nutrition. The ways we communicate with our shoppers has changed; consumer research indicates that Millennials are most likely to engage with retailers using social media or other digital tools, such as apps. Technology has changed the ways we communicate with the consumer with digital mediums helping to reveal a more emotionally-connected, societally driven and socially-concerned shopper.

And, as you likely are quite exhausted from being reminded, the political landscape is about to change.

All these factors tally up to a wholesale change in the ways we do business. Your association recognizes this quite clearly and today we made a strategic announcement about the relevancy of our events moving forward. After much deliberation and guidance from FMI’s Executive Committee, we have decided to no longer host FMI Connect 2017. As you can imagine, a decision of this magnitude was not reached easily.

The networking opportunities in general, and FMI events specifically, must become more appropriate to the faster paced rhythms of food retail. 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.

Together with you, FMI wants to serve as an agent for change, helping to shape and support the industry’s future. We look forward to hearing your ideas as together we plot and blaze new paths in our journey to feeding families and enriching lives.