FMI Connect Preview

From June 8-11 at McCormick Place in Chicago, FMI Connect 2015 will provide food retailers of all kinds, wholesalers, merchandisers, operations people, CIOs and CTOs with a forum for ideas, products, partnerships and professional development. FMI Connect is operated by the Food Marketing Institute, which advocates on behalf of the food retail industry. Its U.S. members operate nearly 40,000 retail food stores and 25,000 pharmacies, representing a combined annual sales volume of almost $770 billion.

With attractions such as FMI Expo and many education sessions, FMI Connect tries to help its attendees maintain relevance so they can get out in front of changing consumer tastes. FMI Connect 2015 will feature products and services in many departments from 700+ exhibitors. It will offer opportunities to connect with industry peers, as 400 retailer companies and 12,500-plus professionals will be in attendance. And it will include more than 40 education sessions with tactics and best practices for improving operations.

Among the keynote speakers at FMI Connect 2015 is Carey Lohrenz, the U.S. Navy’s first female F-14 fighter pilot. Lohrenz will be able to speak about the many factors and challenges that exist within a changing industry and talk about the need for resilience in order to succeed in that kind of an environment.

Another keynote will focus on the importance of internal strength to withstand external challenges, as CBS Sportscaster Greg Gumbel will moderate a panel of coaches that will include John Calipari of Kentucky, Tom Izzo of Michigan State and Rick Pitino of Louisville. The panel will help attendees learn to evaluate their role within their team and apply lessons to increase strength and growth.

FMI Connect will also present the findings of FMI’s 2015 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report. FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin will share a high-level examination of the research, focusing on the cultural concerns impacting family eating patterns and influencing supermarket business practices.

To help attendees network efficiently at FMI Connect, it has created FMI Connect Communities. This will ensure attendees are connecting with food retail professionals who share their same business challenges and opportunities. Each community has specialized itineraries and contoured guidance on programs, educational offerings and experiences for each area of expertise. These FMI Connect Communities include: food safety; sales, marketing and merchandising; health and wellness; store managers; independent operators and more. FMI Connect Communities will also include hands-on sessions with industry thought leaders and customized networking opportunities with specific peer groups.

Another element of FMI Connect 2015 is the FMI Connect Business Exchange (CBX). It is designed to help food retailers solve the challenge of finding all the products their customers haven’t heard of yet but will add to their basket once they see them in the store.

CBX will allow attendees to meet with innovative suppliers and manufactures. This includes Frankenstein Mills and its Aretha Frankenstein’s pancake and waffle mixes, Sushi With Gusto and its insight into starting sushi bars in grocery stores, Findlay’s Organics and its more than 100 years of dried beans grown and raised along the shores of Lake Huron in Southeast Michigan, Taekyung Nongsan’s chili powders and hot sauce, Alvarado Street Bakery and its organic whole grain breads, and Thousand Hills Cattle Company’s meats from free-range cattle.

In the end, FMI Connect aims to help attendees find everything they need to stay competitive in a changing market. For more on FMI Connect 2015, visit