Amplifying the Voice of a Noble Cause Jan 06, 2017 By: David Fikes, Vice President, Consumer/Communication Affairs and Communication and Heather Garlich, Senior Director, Media and Public Relations Each of us maintains our own unique pantheon of trusted sources we reference when we want to know what’s hot, what’s not, what’s in and what’s on its way out. In the food retail world, that list is incomplete if it doesn’t include the name of a supermarket communications officer or consumer affairs professional. This group of dedicated professionals may not have the resources of a fashion critic, the audience of a television celebrity or the twitter-following of a media diva, but they can still provide the most accurate assessment of what is going on in the aisles of today’s grocery store. They keep their finger on the shopper’s pulse and can tell you the questions customers are asking, the concerns they have, and their thoughts about the store they’re in, the products they’re buying and the service they are receiving. They know what’s trending without having to reference social media hits. Consequently, a compilation of the monthly agendas for the 2016 resource calls of FMI’s Communications and Consumer Affairs Council (CCA) reads like the chapter headings of Everything You Wanted to Know about Food Retail in 2016, But Were Afraid to Ask. Popular topics discussed by the CCA this year included: GMO labeling and legislation, cage-free eggs, FMI's new Grocery Revolution, menu labeling, food fraud, SNAP and WIC, and Tariff Act, product date labeling updates, Environmental Defense Fund’s carcinogenic flavor petitions before FDA, Superbugs, Organic Eggs, Chickens and Antibiotics, BPA (again), Seafood Calendar, Maine SNAP debate, Ad Council: Save the Food campaign webinar, SNAP online pilots, D-SNAP, Economic Trends, Deflation, Modified Atmosphere Packaging, FoodKeeper updates and National Family Meals Month. FMI Communication Channels Tracking the most popular 2016 blog topics opened by FMI members this year, the titles echo the concerns listed above and reinforce that the CCA has an accurate read on food retail reality. Out of the more than 200 blog posts published this year, the top topics of interest were federal GMO labelling legislation and Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation. Our blogs form the basis of our member digital communications channels – feeding content to the FMI News App, the monthly member-only newsletter and ww.FMI.org. In addition to all these communication methods focused on keeping FMI members connected with the news, FMI also scored some significant success in 2016 in keeping the news connected with FMI members. Sharing the food retail industry’s story in such publications as Wall Street Journal, New York Times and National Geographic, FMI ensured that the Voice of Food Retail had a global reach. Grocers Doing Good As a means of highlighting the oft-unheralded good grocery stores perform in their communities, FMI again hosted the Community Outreach Awards. We congratulate our 2016 award recipients: Northgate Gonzalez Market - Youth Development category, Family Fare, a Spartan Nash company - Programs Addressing Food Insecurity category, Food Lion, Neighborhood Health Improvement category, and Hy-Vee, Inc., “People’s Pick” Social Media category Supporting the Noble Cause of Food Retail The noble cause of food retailing attracts some of the most caring and principled people in the world; likewise its trade association, FMI, appeals to some of the most helpful and resourceful folks on this planet. In 2016, the FMI communication’s department was proud to support our colleagues in spreading the word about the 29 webinars FMI conducted, the 20 pieces of original research content FMI produced with partners, and the uncountable plethora of resource documents, papers, best practices and tools published, which addressed most every aspect of grocery operations, consumer trends and food retail growth areas.