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FMI & United Trade Shows In Flux

FMI announced its new show schedule:

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today announced a new show rotation and venue schedule beginning in 2008.

The FMI Show plus MARKETECHNICS® will take place in Chicago in May of 2007 as previously scheduled, and then move to Las Vegas in 2008 to begin an alternating year rotation with a new Leadership Education Forum. This new Leadership Education Forum will launch in Dallas in May of 2009. Holding the FMI Show in the even-numbered years accommodates equipment vendors who have asked FMI to be sensitive to an existing national equipment show already being held in the odd-numbered years.

‘Combining the FMI May Show with MARKETECHNICS® starting in 2007 and continuing in 2008 creates a singular opportunity for the entire industry to connect with their peers, gain access to the industry’s most comprehensive exhibit floor, and take advantage of unique educational opportunities. This will be particularly valuable to our independent operators who cannot attend multiple shows each year. Our new Leadership Education Forum will help the industry develop the leadership talent we will need for the future and will serve as an ongoing showcase for FMI’s signature research projects,’ said Tim Hammonds, president and CEO, FMI.

Event dates:

  • 2007: May 6-8, Chicago, Illinois, McCormick Place — FMI Show plus Marketechnics
  • 2008: May 5-7, Las Vegas, Nevada, Mandalay Bay — FMI Show plus Marketechnics
  • 2009: May 4-6, Dallas, Texas, Hyatt Regency — FMI Leadership Education Forum followed by Marketechnics, May 6-8, Dallas, Texas, Dallas Convention Center

We wonder if FMI realizes how arrogant they come across to people. Here they have been partners with other organizations for several years, including United Fresh, and they issue a release as if everyone else has dropped off the face of the earth.

They don’t seem to know or care what any of their “partners” do or don’t do. After promoting the “Power of Five” — referring to the five co-located shows — for the past 3 years as an important benefit for attendees, they simply drop the notion without comment. It really shows a lack of respect for the intelligence of their potential attendees.

Anyway, we spoke with United and they sent a release.

The United Fresh Produce Association announced today that its Board of Directors has elected to continue its partnership with the FMI Show, first launched with the co-location of its trade shows in 2004.

“The partnership between our associations, serving our members in both the produce and retail industries, has created a unique strategic opportunity for building business alliances across the total produce supply chain,” said United Fresh Co-Chairman Maureen Marshall, Torrey Farms, Elba, NY. “We’re pleased that this partnership will continue on with our joint trade shows in Las Vegas in May 2008, and strong cooperative efforts in educational programs in 2009,” she said.

With this decision, the FMI Show and United Fresh Marketplace will transition from their home in Chicago in May 2007 to Las Vegas, Nevada. in May 2008. FMI will then host a Leadership Education Forum in May 2009 in Dallas, Texas.

“Chicago has been a wonderful city for the produce industry, and we’re looking forward to another great trip to the windy city this coming May,” said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. “But, produce people seem to enjoy different venues and there’s no greater convention city today than Las Vegas,” he said. United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association’s last convention in Las Vegas was held in 1985.

“We’re also pleased with the ongoing commitment between our association and FMI to enhancing produce-retail relationships and increasing mutual knowledge and understanding across our memberships. Whether it’s the recent food safety challenges we’re confronting together, or the need to better anticipate consumer needs and opportunities, the strategic partnerships that we build between produce suppliers and retail customers are critical to driving win-win solutions for our member companies,” Stenzel said.

United Fresh Marketplace 2007 will be held together with FMI, the Midwest Fancy Foods Show, All Things Organic, and the U.S. Foods Export Showcase in Chicago, May 5-8. New this year, visitors can participate in three produce short courses on May 5 before the show opening, including sessions on retail marketing, foodservice marketing, and Food Safety 101, a hands-on training session for non-technical professionals throughout the supply chain. In addition, the Fresh Marketplace Welcome Reception will now be followed by a gala Retail Awards Banquet, featuring a celebration of front-line retail produce marketing with the annual Retail Managers Award presentation.

United FreshTech 2007 will be held in Palm Springs, California, April 25-28. FreshTech builds on its history as the successor to the former International Fresh-cut Produce Association’s Fresh-Cut Expo, and features the industry’s only concentrated venue where management personnel and other decision makers can spend undivided attention on the tools, technology, equipment, goods and services to improve the efficiency and profitability of their operations.

For more information about the shows or other United Fresh programs and services, please visit

The comeuppance of all this:

The whole Power of Five group — FMI, United, Fancy Food show, All Things Organic and US Foods Export Showcase — will be in Chicago in 2007.

In 2008, FMI and United will go to Las Vegas. No word yet from other shows, but US Foods Export Showcase will probably go along. The Export Showcase is not so much a show as an area within FMI focused on export. It makes little sense for the Fancy Food Show to go as they have annual shows in New York and San Francisco. Supposedly the organic people want an annual show. Perhaps the Fancy Food and Organic shows will continue to co-locate in Chicago.

In 2009, FMI will have an educational event and no show in Dallas. United has committed to participate in that. However United has NOT precluded doing a general trade show at some other time or place. As Amy Philpott from United put it:

The United Fresh Board of Directors voted overwhelmingly to co-locate the 2008 United Fresh Marketplace together with FMI in Las Vegas, May 5-7. We are not aware of what plans the other partners in the Chicago show may have. At present, we believe FMI and United Fresh are the only organizations announcing definite plans for 2008.

The Board has not made a decision on potential partners or locations with regard to the Fresh Marketplace show in 2009. We will be looking at those options in the future. However, we are committed to continuing our partnership with FMI during 2009 to provide produce industry involvement with their major educational conference in Dallas when they do not plan a trade show, and also exploring other educational opportunities that would help build a stronger produce industry-retail industry supply chain.

At present, FreshTech 2008 is scheduled for Sacramento, California, in late April 2008. The Board will be evaluating options for continuing on with that timing and location, or possibly different timing and cities for 2008 and beyond.

The United Fresh Board believes trade shows, educational conferences, seminars and the like must be operated as business events that meet real needs in the industry. We are committed to offering real strategic business value to our members, and are always open to discussing partnerships that might serve our members and enhance the success of the overall produce industry. That’s how the FMI partnership was originally launched, and continues today as a way to offer unique value to our industry.

We are all very excited about this new opportunity.

The real issue isn’t United but the viability of FMI. There are a few successful every-other-year shows — but not too many. And FMI is acting out of weakness. It is going to this every-other-year schedule because it was having trouble getting support.

If its annual event wasn’t successful enough to encourage firms to want to exhibit, it is hard to see how going every other year solves that problem.

And anyone who knows the way corporate budgets work knows that getting big money one year when you didn’t have it the previous year, isn’t easy.

The every-other-year trade show concept works on two big trade shows in Europe, but that is because they alternate years with SIAL in Paris on even-numbered years and Anuga in Germany on odd-numbered years.

United is probably doing the smartest thing. It is going to work its FMI connection for what it can. But FMI has to save itself.

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