WASHINGTON, DC — July 21, 2003 — An intensive, 40-session education program and a broad-ranging exposition featuring more than 150 suppliers top off the 2003 Productivity Convention and EXPO, October 26-28 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, TN.

Jointly sponsored by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), the annual event is designed for transportation, information technology, human resources and logistics executives and other professionals working in the global food distribution industry.

“We are very excited to present a revamped, enhanced and globally-focused Productivity Convention and EXPO,” said Brian Tully, FMI senior vice president of conventions. “By incorporating stronger representation from self-distributing chains, wholesale distributors, foodservice distributors and manufacturers, with continued IFDA support, we have created the premier networking and educational event for food distribution professionals worldwide.”

"This is the one conference of the year where operations people in the industry can discuss the broad range of issues that face distributors," said John M. Gray, president & CEO of IFDA. "Most importantly, we make sure that the program is heavily weighted toward practitioners within the industry sharing their insights with peers. For foodservice distributors, it is a great opportunity to hear from people who face the same challenges."

Under the theme “Focus on the Future,” the education program will feature speakers from across the industry — retail and wholesale operators, foodservice distributors, consultants, government officials and experts from various disciplines — addressing key subjects such as
transportation and distribution logistics, technology and human resources. Information will be presented in multiple formats, including general sessions, workshops, roundtable discussions, idea exchanges and special sessions held on the exhibit floor during show hours. Program highlights include:

  • State of the Food Distribution Industry — Top executives from retail and foodservice share their views on the current state of the food distribution industry. In addition to a macro view of the overall industry, trading partners’ relations, and their individual company’s philosophy/perspective, each will share their vision of the future of food distribution and the role logistics plays in achieving success and ensuring the industry’s growth and survival.

  • Homeland Security — What does “Code Red” mean to our industry? Top representatives from the Department of Homeland Security offer a strategic and tactical look at critical infrastructures, the role of the DHS and the potential impact of new security policies on our nation, industry, companies, and employees.

  • Labor Relations Forum — An exploration of contracts, negotiations, campaigns and other current and future labor relations issues within the food distribution industry. Both union and non-union companies will participate in a panel discussion addressing the key challenges that are causing labor and management to constantly reevaluate their relationship.

  • Hearing Voices: Identifying Voice Recognition Benefits — A panel discussion looks at voice recognition technology, which has quickly become a viable solution for distribution applications in addressing the challenges of real-world warehouse operations. Improved accuracy, increased productivity and reduced training times in the areas of order selection, cycle counting and receiving are some of the benefits to be explored.

  • Going Wireless: Identifying RFID Benefits — Myriad radio frequency identification applications are already at work transforming the food distribution and foodservice industries. From revolutionizing the supply chain with the electronic product code to tracking perishables for improved food safety and consumer satisfaction, RFID impacts all segments of the food chain. Technology specialists examine the drive for a mass roll-out of RFID, the creation of standards, privacy issues and emerging applications.

  • Business: It’s a Legal, Ethical, and Global Story — The past year has many lessons for U.S. businesses: Trust is at the heart of good business. And at the heart of trust is ethics. Explore why good ethics is at the heart of every company enjoying long-term success, and the impact of ethical implications on companies, industries, the market and the workforce itself.

  • Alternative Trends in Product Distribution — Distribution experts explore supply chain alternatives, such as product redistribution and consolidation warehousing, that are designed to improve warehouse efficiencies and reduce costs.

New to the convention this year is The Staging Area. Located directly on the exhibit floor, The Staging Area will feature hourly education sessions and exhibitor demonstrations. It will be linked to the Connectivity Center, a tech-driven space featuring complimentary computer services and Internet access.

Productivity EXPO, Distribution Facility Tours and Social Events Round Out Agenda

Complementing the education program is the Productivity EXPO, featuring more than 150 product and service providers that support food distribution operations. Vendors will include companies specializing in material handling equipment, facility design, pallets and containers, transportation, information technologies and communications software.

Tours of several Nashville-area distribution facilities, both inside and outside of the food industry, will afford convention attendees a unique opportunity to gain operational insights on the latest distribution systems, procedures, technologies and special practices. Pre-registration is required. List of facilities include Cumberland Swan Manufacturing, Federal Express Ground, Opryland University, Ozburn Hessey Logistics, Roadway Express, Robert-Orr SYSCO and United Parcel Service.

Networking and social events will be held each day of the convention, including an opening night reception on the exhibit floor.

Planning Committee Reflects Broad Face of Industry

For the first time, planning for the Productivity Convention and EXPO is being led jointly by co-chairs representing the wholesale grocer, self-distributing retailer and foodservice distributor segments of the industry. This year also marks the first time that a female distribution executive is serving in an overall leadership role. The co-chairs are joined by 30 other executives from across the industry who are contributing their expertise to the planning of the event.

The 2003 Productivity co-chairs are Mark Foster, vice president, supply chain, SUPERVALU INC.; Sheila Laing, assistant vice president, human resources, distribution, Hy-Vee, Inc.; Robert Slotnick, senior vice president and chief information officer, Performance Food Group Co. The EXPO Host Committee Chairman is Andrew McCann, president, Perishable Distributors of Iowa.

For more information about the 2003 Productivity Convention and EXPO, please visit the show Web site at http://www.fmi.org/events/productivity/2003/.