FMI rebrands, says private brands will play major role

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Doug Baker

The Food Marketing Institute is now officially FMI - The Food Industry Association

Hanging on to those three letters that still mean a lot to the industry, the brunt of the rebranding is a removal of the term “marketing” in name and a newer focus on the broader food marketplace — including private brands — and an embrace of a more interconnected supply chain. 

“As the lines between retailer and supplier roles become more tightly drawn, and the distinction between brick and mortar and e-commerce becomes less visible, our association encompasses a more diverse landscape,” Doug Baker, vice president of industry relations at FMI, told Store Brands. “Private brands are positioned to be the building blocks of this new future of the food industry, and FMI will continue to invest in consumer and operations research that helps its members strategically grow their commitment.”

FMI was founded more than 40 years ago, when the Super Market Institute and the National Association of Food Chains merged. Its member companies operate nearly 33,000 retail food stores and 12,000 pharmacies. The Arlington, Va.-based trade organization has almost 500 associate member companies that provide products and services to the food retail industry.

Over the last year especially, FMI has published key reports on the private brand industry, so it comes as no surprise that the association’s new positioning will further include private brands. These reports include “The Power of Private Brands,” a three-part study, and “The Food Retailing Industry Speaks” survey, which specifically revealed that about 60% of the retailers the organization spoke with are looking to increase space allocation for private brands. Baker also recently wrote about how private brands are poised for growth in the new year.


In the coming year, Baker said the newly branded FMI will continue to work with the FMI Private Brands Council, taking in industry feedback regarding the influence of the BE (bioengineered foods) regulations in addition to promoting SmartLabel as a tool to deliver more information to consumers that could ever fit on a package.

FMI’s name change comes on the heels of the Grocery Manufacturing Association becoming the Consumer Brands Association. A move that was made just last week. 

"Over the last two years, we’ve inspired a recommitment, a renewal of vows among the FMI membership," said Joe Sheridan, president and COO of Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp., and chairman of the FMI board of directors. "We’ve even changed who can be a member in the association as a logical step in a direction we’ve been traveling for years, offering greater parity between retailers and their product supplier partner members at the board of directors level."

Private brands are positioned to be the building blocks of this new future of the food industry.
Doug Baker, FMI

The organization will remain committed to effectiveness on public policy and to the issues that matter, a forum for high-impact industry dialogue, and dedicated to consumer and operational insights. 

“FMI provides the most productive forum for connecting and holding constructive dialogue across the food industry,” said FMI President and CEO Leslie Sarasin. “Driven by consumer relevance, we are in the business of food, wherever it is bought, sold or produced, and we are well-positioned to represent everything in the shopping basket – and work closely with every participant in the marketplace.”

Baker quoted Sarasin in a blog post she wrote about the change: “Life is full of circumstances and situations that prompt us to evaluate our personal brand and make necessary changes, adapting to a new position or setting by shifting our brand. Sometimes these involve small adjustments and sometimes we must undergo a significant overhaul, a complete revamp.”

He said FMI’s members have this unique opportunity with private brands, as they adapt to the new marketplace and the influences of new consumerism.