WASHINGTON, DC — March 1, 2002 — A new technology that could forever change the way we shop for and consume food will be the centerpiece of SuperTechMart III, a compelling interactive tour of food retail technology to be showcased by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) at the 2002 FMI Show, May 5-7 in Chicago.

The third installment of SuperTechMart will examine the vast potential of the electronic product code (EPC), a new product identification technology that is considerably more sophisticated than the universal product code (UPC) introduced in the 1970s. Using tiny microchips embedded in packaging, the technology can track individual products throughout the supply chain from the manufacturer to the consumer’s kitchen and on to the recycling bin. Researchers state that the chips will allow an entire shopping cart of groceries to be scanned in just seconds.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), possessing one of the top EPC research teams in the world, is providing technical direction for SuperTechMart III. Several sponsoring technology companies will also have pivotal roles.

“SuperTechMart has become one of the hottest attractions at The FMI Show in recent years,” exclaims Brian Tully, senior vice president of convention services at FMI. “With the focus this year on the EPC — one of the most dynamic technologies imaginable — and MIT’s involvement, SuperTechMart will again be a top feature of the exhibit floor.”

From the Days of Columbus to the Bailey’s Market of Tomorrow

SuperTechMart III will open in the late 15th century – the origin of modern supply chain theories, according to the display’s architects. A costumed Christopher Columbus leads the audience on a time-traveling voyage, explaining how changes in the supply chain over the centuries have driven changes in civilization. The explorer covers key periods of history — including the Industrial Revolution, the introduction of mass production, the information age and globalization — before introducing the ePC.

The next phase of the exhibit features a futuristic lab and a screen displaying microscopic images of silicon chips. A scientist, dressed in lab attire, explains how the supply chain of the future will be powered by microchips containing unique product-specific codes. These chips will be imbedded into every single product, according to the scientist. Electronic readers located at strategic points throughout a product’s normal lifecycle — manufacturing, distribution, store shelf, checkout lane, home appliances — pick up data transmitting from the chip and process it.   Tour participants will leave this phase with a more thorough understanding of how EPC technology will impact the entire food distribution supply chain.

SuperTechMart III concludes with a visit to Bailey’s Supermarket — featured in the first two SuperTechMart exhibits — in 2015. The store is completely auto-ID based and represents the latest in supermarket design. Maureen Bailey, the fictional Bailey’s CEO, takes the audience on a tour of the store, demonstrating how shelf inventory is managed, food is kept fresh, theft is predicted (and therefore eliminated) and the checkout is merely a matter of seconds — all because of the technology afforded by the EPC.

“SuperTechMart III reinforces the importance of innovation, communication and collaboration in our society,” notes Ken Fobes of Business Strategy Group, one of the exhibit architects. “Without these elements, and the leadership of ambitious visionaries over the years, the store of today would still be the store of the future.”

For more information about the 2002 FMI Show, please visit the show website at www.fmishow.org.