By Rick Stein, Fresh, Vice President, Food Marketing Institute
In my role at FMI, I’ve had the opportunity to work with our Fresh members to create numerous resources for the food retail industry. However, there’s one unique resource in particular that creates a community for the leaders of Fresh Foods (or as we call it in the industry, “The Perimeter”).
In 2014, I asked Fresh Foods members to help me create a committee that would offer Fresh executives a place to foster innovation, discuss in-depth information, trends, and insights, and develop winning industry strategies. It took time to perfect the right recipe, but the Fresh Executive Committee (FEC) has grown into a strong cross-collaboration of various retailers and wholesalers.
Last year, we expanded the group to include many thought-leading suppliers, research organizations, and sister trade associations, as well as, members of FMI’s Fresh Executive Committee (FEC), which includes 22 different food retail and wholesale companies. Together, the collective group is called the Fresh Foods Leadership Council (FFLC). With FFLC members’ diverse backgrounds ranging from sales and marketing to operation and sustainability in Fresh Foods, a group like this has never existed before in the Fresh industry.
As the food retail industry continues to evolve, we know FMI members are concerned with the growing regulatory and legislative burdens, emerging industry issues, and have a higher demand for education and resources. That’s why the council engages in non-competitive conversations, which ensures they can focus their energies on education, networking, and advocacy. Members share ideas, explore emerging issues (Animal Welfare, GMO, Corporate and Social Responsibility,etc), develop business relations, and safeguard their voices in Washington on priority issues like Menu Labeling, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), and Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Each year in January and June, the group meets to review rising issues and topics concerning the Fresh community. From that discussion, the FFLC leads projects on issues such as FSMA and Menu Labeling, and establishes industry research like the Power of Meat, Power of Produce, the Power of Fresh Prepared, and Top Trends in Fresh.