By: Steve Markenson, Director of Research, FMI

Speaks 1949


A reporter I was talking to recently told me that journalists have a saying that they provide a “first rough draft of history.” That got me thinking about the role of research and insights at FMI. We have been striving to capture what has been taking place in the food industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Through surveys we conduct with the industry and insights we share in our reports, FMI has been capturing the history of our industry during these unprecedented times.     

The first-ever The Food Retailing Industry Speaks report appeared in 1949. Seventy-two years later, FMI’s flagship state-of-the-industry report continues the tradition of providing important benchmarks, facts and figures frequently used in our advocacy work on Capitol Hill, in conversations with the media and by our members who want to make informed business decisions.  

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, FMI continued the tradition of Speaks. While we delayed our field research from the traditional April or May time period to the summer months out of respect to our members as they dealt with initial impacts of pandemic, we were able to still conduct the research. In fact, our members really stepped up and helped us get one of the most robust response rates we have had in years. The delay also allowed us to capture a picture in time of what was happening amidst the pandemic.

In February 2021, we reached out to the industry to understand, as the pandemic approached one year, how the industry was coping with the additional expenses and burdens of doing business safely during a pandemic. Receipts from the Pandemic proactively addresses how the additional revenues from higher retail food sales need to be seen in context of the additional costs, including: Personal Protective Equipment, increases in pay and benefits, enhanced cleaning and technology. 

Now we need to complete the story of the past year. Whether your company is large or small, conventional or niche, we request your participation in our 73rd annual The Food Retailing Industry Speaks survey so that FMI’s voice accurately reflects the breadth and depth of the food retail industry. The survey was sent out to all CEOs last week. If you are a CEO, please respond. If you are not, please encourage your CEO to respond by the deadline, Friday, May 28, 2021. As in previous years, the survey captures information on the following areas:

  • Strategy and marketing.
  • Operations and sales.
  • Technology.
  • Online sales.
  • Human resources strategies.
  • Financial information.

We need your help to fill in the “plot holes” and complete the narrative with a comprehensive look at what has happened over the past year. What did we learn? How will we move forward? Help us by completing the year’s The Food Retailing Industry Speaks survey and be a part of the story of our industry.

Learn more and download the 2020 The Food Retailing Industry Speaks and Receipts from The Pandemic.