By: Mark Baum, Chief Collaboration Officer and Senior Vice President of Industry Relations, FMI 

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In 2017 and 2018, FMI and Oliver Wyman joined forces to examine emerging food industry challenges which informed the formulation of FMI’s three-year strategic plan, finalized in 2019. In early 2020 the global COVID-19 pandemic changed much of how the industry allocated resources to take care of teammates, customers and communities. 

As we near what we hope is the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, FMI and Oliver Wyman have reconvened and published Volume 7 of our annual journal to provide a future-focused roadmap for the food industry that harnesses the wisdom and insights learned from pandemic best practices and rapidly shifting consumer and marketplace dynamics. We have addressed many of these topics in the articles which have been included in our joint publication, Boardroom.  

In 2021, FMI conducted a series of executive member interviews to help create a new FMI roadmap. The process resulted in six key issues, prioritizes and timelines for addressing each one. Issues representing "immediate needs" over the next six to 12 months are supply chain disruption and labor shortage/workforce challenges. "Imperative issues" over the next year or two include changing marketplace and societal dynamics, evolving consumer behaviors, rising Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) expectations, and accelerating technology transformation — with the latter being a key enabler for companies to address the other identified issues.

The key issues roadmap supports action-oriented steps for the industry and helps clarify the most relevant roles for FMI in navigating with and on behalf of the industry. For example, the association can help the industry communicate the attractiveness of careers in the food retail and consumer products sectors. FMI can help serve as a clearing house for technology and how to best apply new systems and solutions. All these activities line up with FMI's key value propositions by advocating, collaborating, and educating. 

The six FMI Imperative Issues are:  

  • Supply Chain Disruption 
  • Labor Shortage and Workforce Challenges 
  • Changing Marketplace and Societal Dynamics   
  • Evolving Consumer Behavior 
  • Rising ESG Expectations 
  • Accelerating Technology Transformation   

Wrapped into all these imperative issues, the pandemic has illuminated the necessity for closer trading partner relationships, especially on issues such as supply chain and FMI is positioned to help the industry make further progress with supply chain improvements at scale. In 2021, we hosted more than 2,000 virtual, private trading partner meetings to focus on planning, forecasting and supply chain discussions. As noted, the association's members now include product suppliers, in addition to the longtime retailer/wholesaler member bases. The addition of product supplier members enhances opportunities for industry collaboration, as well as internal and external communications. 

The primary objective of the Imperative Issues initiative is to help the industry and FMI navigate in a future marked by more ambiguity. For many years we operated in a stable and predictable environment, but we have learned that today’s world is less stable, less predictable and more volatile. The industry has performed remarkably well during these challenging times. As we seek to restore equilibrium to the supply chain, we must also balance that with the need to provide great resilience and agility going forward.

I encourage you to dive into the articles in the new FMI and Oliver Wyman’s edition of Boardroom.  Our seventh edition is our most compelling. Readers will find very real, and powerful examples of these key issues and topics we have committed to address, problems we seek to solve, and plan for the future of the food industry.  


The electronic issue of Boardroom is dynamic interactive, and if you would like to request up to five printed copies of this issue, we will be pleased to send them along to you as well.