By Sue Borra, RD, Executive Director, FMI Foundation, Chief Health and Wellness Officer, Food Marketing InstituteFMI Foundation

The FMI Foundation worked to unite the food retail industry using three main campaigns: National Family Meals Month™, Unified Voice Protocol and Stir It Up!

The Industry that Eats Together, Stays Together: Making Family Meals a Priority

The food retail industry, with food suppliers and community collaborators, rallied behind FMI Foundation’s National Family Meals Month™ (NFMM) this past September. Encouraging families to enjoy one additional meal per week at home, this event has become a national movement in only four years.

More than 200 companies have joined the movement since its inception. In fact, participation jumped dramatically in September 2018 with:

  • 20 percent increase in retailer participation;
  • 40 percent increase in supplier participation; and
  • 37 percent increase in community collaborators.

The NFMM movement is also catching on with consumers. In a nationwide survey, Nielsen, who has been tracking awareness since 2015, found that the percentage of consumer who saw the campaign was 28 percent -- up from 13 percent just last year! That’s a 115 percent increase in awareness in one year!

The message of family meals has spread well beyond the food industry. Many of our local leaders have also recognized the importance of enjoying family meals at home. In 2017, two states proclaimed September as Family Meals Month. This past year, six states joined the movement: Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The future vision for the family meal movement is that food retailers, suppliers and community collaborators will continue to help families achieve one more meal each week at home. Significantly, we will encourage this practice year-round while shining a celebratory light on the event each September.

Unifying our Voice to Improve Consumer Trust

Unified Voice Protocol is an initiative created by the FMI Foundation in 2017 to proactively create an environment of trust in the food and consumer goods industries, so that consumers can purchase products they desire with full confidence in those who provide them.

Pilot Project I: Consumer Beliefs about Sustainability Related to Poultry Production Practices

For its first pilot project, FMI Foundation tested the Unified Voice Protocol by addressing two current animal welfare issues, cage-free eggs and slow-growing broiler chickens. Key findings included that 60 percent of consumers would be willing to pay a premium for cage-free eggs if the premium is less than $.40/dozen. In addition, we learned that consumers have very limited knowledge on the topic of slow-growing broiler chickens. Results from these studies have been presented to FMI members, food and agriculture stakeholder groups, and have been submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Issue for Pilot Project II: Gene Editing

The issue that has been prioritized for the second Unified Voice Protocol pilot project is Gene Editing. Gene-edited foods will be entering the marketplace soon. Given the scientific complexity of biotechnology, misunderstanding regarding bioengineering language and the possibility for gene editing to be confused with other biotech processes, there is high potential for consumer questions regarding the use of this bio-tech tool in the food supply.

FMI Foundation’s goal is to help consumers navigate this issue. Education on this topic will be mutually beneficial to consumers and the food industry.

Stirring it Up! at FMI Midwinter Executive Conference:

Now in its third year, Midwinter Executive Conference attendees look forward to this unique fundraising event where companies put on their culinary hats and compete in a friendly competition to dish up the best family meal in the categories of easiest, tastiest, most affordable, best culinary adventure, and healthiest. Attendees visit each tasting station, try all the delicious dishes, and even serve as the judges with electronic polling devices.

Stir It Up!, has broken the mold on all previous fundraising events. In fact, it has quickly become a must-attend event in the food retail industry and in 2018 set a new record for the amount of money raised - $1.1 million.

Generous support of the FMI Foundation ensures our ability to fund research and education in our mission areas of food safety, nutrition and health.