By Mark Baum, Chief Collaboration Officer and Senior Vice President, Industry Relations and David Fikes, Vice President, Communications and Consumer/Community Affairs, Food Marketing InstituteEmerging Issues

Unless you’ve been in a coma, kidnapped by aliens or trapped in a sensory deprivation chamber for the last few years, it’s not news that the food industry is experiencing disruption at an unprecedented pace. Challenges and opportunities presented by these game-changing innovations must be addressed and embraced by food retailers and their trading partners if they are to survive, indeed, to thrive, in this climate of accelerated change.

This is where FMI adds significant value for its members and their trading partners. Over the last two years, FMI, with the help of our strategic partners at Oliver Wyman, has led an initiative to identify emerging issues that have the greatest potential to affect the food industry in the next three years. Insights gleaned from focus groups, breakout sessions with the Board of Directors, a survey of FMI members, and interviews with forward-looking executives in the food industry resulted in the identification of five major categories of emerging issues: new consumerism, artificial intelligence/technology, workforce, new marketplace, and food production.

A white paper was developed that takes a more in-depth look at this initiative. It offers a more detailed view of the contents in each category, citing the ways the areas overlap and interface in critical aspects. The white paper also provides some initial ideas about the role FMI anticipates playing in the various categories and a bit about how we plan to help our members address these challenges and seize the opportunities they provide.

This past year, these five major categories of emerging issues formed the foundation of the 2018 Future Leaders curriculum developed by Root, Inc., and were the organizing components of the visually based exercise, Know Your Industry. In addition, this initiative is helping inform FMI’s Strategic Plan and set its future agenda. Having identified the highest priority emerging issues, FMI will continue providing more analysis and insight into how the content of the five areas is morphing and expanding. The new strategic plan has a specific implementation directive that will shape how FMI can best leverage its core services to deliver value to its members, whether through government relations, food safety, thought leadership on total store collaboration, or by serving as the voice of food retail.