By: Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO, Food Marketing Institute
Lego Legacy of 2017

When my college freshman son was a youngster, he loved Legos – a passion I indulged because it was both constructive and instructive. Lego-play taught the value of perseverance, following directions (sometimes learned negatively) and the joy of creativity. But perhaps the even greater life-lesson that Legos provided was offering tangible proof that big accomplishments are actually the accumulative effect of many, many coordinated small steps. I can only hope these lessons have not only served him, but have been reinforced by his first semester collegiate experience.

2017 has been a year of big accomplishments for FMI, but something of a Lego-experience since these huge achievements are the sum of many, many small steps and tiny pieces coming together. Over the next few weeks, FMI will devote its blog platform to offering a step by step, department by department review of the past 12 months. This 16-part blog series is intended to help you better see the way the pieces fit together and how smaller developments in one department contributed to the overall successes experienced in 2017.

Here are the categories that offer just a taste of what the 15 blogs to follow will cover in much more detail over the course of the remaining days in 2017:

  • Advocacy – The dozens of 2017 government relations victories - swipe fees, menu labeling, no BAT tax, labor, beverage tax repeal, weights and measures… - are the result of years of shoe leather from FMI members and staff, and illustrate the truth of Steve Jobs’ observation: “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”  On other advocacy fronts, the industry and FMI garnered much positive press regarding the Trading Partner Alliance initiative to reduce consumer confusion about Product Code Date Labels.

  • Resources – From highly technical FSMA implementation guidance to webinars on trends in customer transparency expectations, FMI produced a bevy of industry information assets in 2017. These include hosting 12 live educational events, publishing 14 research reports covering consumer trends and industry operations, presenting 49 webinars on critical industry topics, delivering a dozen issue alerts and holding hundreds of conference calls assessing industry dispositions and shaping advocacy direction.

  • Relationship building/Networking – While education and information gathering is often the initial allure of calls, events, and webinars, one of the primary benefits FMI offers is bringing peers, colleagues, trading partners together and industry service providers together. The contacts and connections FMI fosters become the cohesive bond that helps our industry work better.

  • Operations– At its financial core, the food retail industry relies upon operational excellence and improved supply chain efficiencies to help manage its margins. In 2017, through workshops, surveys, and interviews FMI identified and examined the top emerging issues anticipated to carry the greatest industry impact in the next three years. This exercise was undertaken to provide our members with the advance information they need to revise their operating models in ways that will better seize the opportunities and manage the challenges the future holds.

In between all the words my colleagues will use in describing in greater detail the events, programs, developments and resources provided this past year, I hope you will clearly hear the substantial recurring echo of how valuable a partner FMI has been in helping you achieve your 2017 goals. As they say in The Lego Movie theme song, “Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you’re part of a team, everything is awesome, when we’re living our dream.”