By Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods, FMI  FreshForward Action Guide

The term “action hero” evokes stories of courageous super-humans battling the forces of evil.

That is great fodder for Hollywood movies and comic books. I want to discuss a different type of action hero — one who overcomes major hurdles in the business world by identifying targeted strategies and acting on them.

This topic is especially relevant to FMI’s annual FreshForward conference, an annual gathering of senior-level retailers, wholesalers, suppliers and service providers in the fresh foods arena.

The conference makes a priority of helping identify potential action steps for progress. Strategies are brainstormed by attendees, who participate in facilitator-led breakout groups after each track of the fresh-focused speaker presentations. The attendee takeaways are captured and recorded for a follow-up Action Guide that identifies all the key strategies.

This year’s guide addresses “actionable” steps to make progress on the three fresh topics covered at the 2023 conference in August — ecommerce, meal planning and Gen Z. The guide has been exclusively available to attendees and is now accessible to a wider audience for download.

Identifying Actionable Strategies

What kinds of strategies are emphasized in this year’s guide? Let’s look at a few of the action steps, which include industry-facing, consumer-facing, and employee-focused strategies.

  • Get on the Meals Radar with Foodservice: Focus on communication strategies that make retail foodservice top of mind for consumers involved in meal planning. Too often, consumers do not think of the supermarket when it comes to what’s for dinner.
  • Make the Store into a Gen Z Destination: Emphasize store experiences geared to this cohort — including community spaces, tech integrations and in-store theatre. Also important is identifying digital training tools that are on target for Gen Z associates.
  • Collaborate to Overcome Ecommerce Challenges: Step up collaboration with fresh suppliers, third-party fulfillment providers other partners to overcome hurdles related to inventory, quality, substitutions, and other operational aspects.
Acting on Key Strategies

Even the most robust action steps won’t be useful unless leaders take advantage of them. That’s why the Action Guide also includes a checklist on how to make progress with internal teams and external partners to advance efforts. These steps include:

  • Choose at least one action step to consider pursuing in the coming months for each of the three areas – meal planning, Gen Z and ecommerce.
  • Explore what levels of internal and external expertise and collaboration are needed to make progress on each action step.
  • Create timelines and measurement strategies.
  • Evaluate initial results and adapt strategies to optimize outcomes.
Pursuing Next Steps for Progress

We hope you’ll download this year’s Action Guide, which contains a lot more information than what is relayed here. It incorporates more action steps and top insights from speakers at the conference. The insights include information from our latest The State of Fresh Foods research, impacts from the economy and other “macro” forces, and the outlook for technology. The information will be useful in planning fresh foods strategies for the coming year and beyond.

FreshForward, presented with our collaborative partner Deloitte, is about how the fresh sector comes together to push the industry forward.

Download 2023 FreshForward Action Guide