New FMI Emerge Program and Community Guides New Brands to More Shelf Space Jan 10, 2019 By Julie Pryor, Director, Emerging Brands, and Margaret Core, Vice President, Marketing and Industry Relations There may have never been a time when consumers craved so many new and innovative products more than they do now. Likewise, there may never have been a time when there were so many obstacles for emerging brands to overcome as they struggle for space on retail shelves, both in our stores and online. FMI is working to get as many exciting new products to the marketplace as possible with its recently inaugurated Emerge program, designed to break down the barriers for new companies looking for wider grocery distribution and more sales velocity. At the heart of the subscription-based Emerge program is moreshelfspace.org, the center of the online community for emerging brands. This portal details all the resources available to the Emerge community, including webinars, podcasts and workbooks. One of Emerge’s most important assets is its network of mentors available to entrepreneurs who have questions and, due to their brands’ nascency, so few answers to inquiries, such as: How do I establish a healthy broker and distribution network? How can I be a successful partner to brokers and distributors? How do I organize my supply chain and online fulfillment? Who are the buyers in my category? How do I access actionable data insights and use them to drive sales and velocity? With more than 50 mentors in the community, new entrepreneurs have access to food retail industry experts and leaders offering time and money-saving guidance and coaching. Beyond insights and advice, mentors help make experience-based connections, share links to financing sources, investors and potential trading partners, and provide practical guidance regarding the kind of financial help to ask for and when best to request it. Sales of natural products have doubled in the last decade and have now surpassed $130 billion annually. Many of the new brands looking for access to the marketplace are in this category, along with health and wellness products, which also address a growing consumer desire. Consumers hold individual views on how to eat well and food retailers can help them reach their goals in terms of shopping well -- by supporting the customers desire for nutritional products offering new sensory experiences. Julie Pryor, FMI’s director of emerging brands, leads the Emerge effort assisted by a veteran community of retail and business leaders, who are Sponsors or serve on either the Champions Council or the Retailer/Distributor Advisory Council. If you know an emerging food, beverage, or GM/HBC brand that could benefit from joining the Emerge community, please encourage them to contact us!