By: Sue Wilkinson, Senior Director, Information Service & Research, FMI
This year marks the 70th anniversary of The Food Retailing Industry Speaks report. Throughout the decades, this research has documented important benchmarks and facts and figures of food retailers and wholesalers. The report’s value can be measured by the countless ways in which the data have been used:
- By members desiring to make informed business decisions.
- By FMI in regulatory comments and testimony on the Hill.
- In trade and business news stories.
- By students from grammar school to postdoctoral programs.
- And the list goes on.
It’s because of the vision of leaders of the Super Market Institute (one of FMI’s predecessor associations) that we have this report today. Here’s the backstory.
Since 1944, Super Market Institute (SMI) tried to develop a comprehensive research program to study the operations of a then nascent grocery industry. After some disappointing attempts, in January 1949, under the leadership of its president, Sidney Rabb (also Chairman of Stop & Shop), SMI utilized the Marketing and Research Department of Stop & Shop as the research department for the Institute. It was headed up by William Applebaum and Curt Kornblau, two familiar names to some readers.
In that same year, Kornblau was released to the Institute by Rabb and together with Applebaum, they brought out the first edition of The Super Market Industry Speaks. Kornblau would serve FMI as senior vice president until his retirement in 1994. Applebaum, after working in management for Stop & Shop until 1953, became an industry consultant, and throughout his career authored many books and articles about the industry.
If there is any doubt about the importance of the first edition of Speaks, let me share this tribute to William Applebaum found this past summer in the FMI archives. It reads:
A seeker after truth
to serve his fellow man
In appreciation for the comprehensive study
“The Super Market Industry Speaks”
a research project
that will long endure
as a living testimonial
to his vision, his knowledge,
and his intellectual integrity.
He has earned the respect, the affection,
and the gratitude of the industry
which he has served with such selfless devotion
--and whose cause he has done so much to advance.
A Resolution “In Appreciation” by the Officers
and Directors of Super Market Institute
May 8, 1949
The leadership of SMI would be pleased to know just how much this research has long endured thanks to the many companies that contribute invaluable data every year. Now that you know the story of how Speaks came to be, I urge you to download the 2019 report and see how the grocery industry is performing today.