By: Doug Baker, Vice President Industry Relations-Private Brands, Technology, Food Marketing Institute
CES Logo

The whole world is connected. And, if it isn’t yet, it will be.

The same goes for the food retailing industry.

That is what representatives from the industry’s leading companies discovered when they joined an FMI-organized Jan. 5-8 visit to International CES 2017. The giant consumer electronics show that takes over every inch of all the major venues in Las Vegas year after year is the showcase for products that the world’s consumers soon will be using – but just don’t know it yet.

Technology executives from the food retail industry like KeHe, Wegman’s, Brookshire, Big Y and Kroger spent two days touring the countless aisles and discussing the latest technologies that will soon impact the way people shop for and consume food.

Products on display on the CES showfloor demonstrated that there is no way around the fact that connectivity is the future when it comes to how consumers live their lives. The FMI group of executives saw plenty of examples of this with items linked to the Internet of Things, vehicle-to-vehicle communications and voice-activated communications—think Amazon Echo (aka Alexa) and Google Home.

The FMI group experienced everything from a way to wirelessly recharge the battery on an electric car to a “Sleep Tech” pavilion with products that will help people – and not just scientists either – monitor their own sleep patterns with sensors embedded in their mattresses.

Most importantly, however, the group focused on the new technologies destined to have an impact on food retailing. They saw and tried out “smart” appliances in connected kitchens exhibited by companies not typically associated with the industry like Hyundai, Carrier and Bosch. Nearly 40 companies had products in a drone marketplace, highlighting all the ways companies soon will be able to use drones – including the delivery of food products directly to consumers.

After their visit to the showfloor, the food retailing executives talked about what they saw in a stimulating discussion led by Thom Blishock, chairman and CEO of the Dialogic Group and a futurist who focuses on the retail and CPG industry.

The CIOs and CMOs involved with the trip to International CES left with a better understanding of three important issues:

  • Which technologies they and their companies might be able to implement today;
  • Which technology they could expect to be the biggest industry disruptor in the future; and
  • Which technologies create the most serious competitive threat to their current business models.

FMI members interested in learning more about the FMI trip to International CES or want to join next year’s trip can contact Doug Baker.