Progressive Grocer - May 2010 - (Page 70)

Fresh Food Recipe for Success In the weeks leading up to the annual IDDBA confab, the organization’s longtime executive director, Carol Christison, talks about an industry in recovery mode, her board’s dislike of warmed-over “educational” sessions and her aversion to potentially dumbed-down meal “solutions.” By Meg Major A lthough the economic downturn, industry consolidation and the related time pressures placed on grocery industry executives have found many trade associations struggling with low member participation and uneventful trade shows, the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s (IDDBA) 46th annual seminar and expo set for June 6 through June 8 in Houston is defying those trends with a strong upswing in exhibits and registration. “While things were a little Aside from a robust trade slow last year, it was still a show, the quantity and qualgood year for us, but this ity of the guest speakers at year is a much different IDDBA’s annual show are as story,” observes Carol Chrisimpressive as any industry tison, IDDBA’s executive event on the circuit. Accorddirector. “Our original floor ing to Christison, “Our speakplan sold out, and we had ers are carefully selected to to add another entire row do three things: provide busiof exhibits [over 50 extra ness insight that will help booths] just to accommogrow business, provide condate the demand,” she adds, sumer insight that will help Carol Christison, IDDBA’s noting that registration was executive director target customers, and offer up nearly 20 percent ahead personal insight and motivaof last year at presstime. The association also tion to help them grow professionally.” added six more hotels to accommodate deEven with a lineup of speakers that covers mand for sleeping rooms. the economy, marketing, eating trends, conNotes Christison, “We think the overall in- sumer issues and employee relations, among dustry expectation is that we’re in a recov- other crucial topics, however, “it’s not enough ery mode,” which she says has in turn had to get the facts — they must be put into pera positive influence on the increases. “Exhibi- spective and matched with the issues facing tors and retailers are also feeling good about our members,” explains Christison. “The data getting back to the business of making and is out there; it’s the information processing selling products that will appeal to their cus- and application that make the IDDBA show tomers,” a sense further bolstered by IDDBA’s so impactful. A trade show offers face-towell-earned reputation as “the most focused face interaction that is the key to building venue for targeting customers and introduc- relationships” — a requisite for “building the ing new products.” business,” in Christison’s opinion. 70 • Progressive Grocer • May 2010 A H E A D O F W H AT ’ S N E X T Once the annual show has come and gone, food safety, traceability, research and online learning are on a shortlist of key items she and the IDDBA board will focus on most heavily in the near term. “We’re so committed to food safety that we’re actually subsidizing the cost of the testing fees for retail members to train their employees. We’re also working with other food associations on traceability,” which, along with food safety, she describes as “huge issues” confronting the industry. Beyond that, Christison says: “Our customers are looking to us for help with how they shop, prepare and eat their meals. The economic issues we’ve faced in the last 18 months have provided an unprecedented opportunity to take the high road in providing meal solutions. It’s not just alternative sourcing or pricing or home cooking; it’s understanding how consumers spend their food dollars and their attitudes about eating and cooking, and looking at meals from the customer side of the case …. By looking at meals from the customer’s point of view, we can better understand the drivers in their decision-making process. It’s not about what we think dinner means; it’s what they think it means.” While the economic downturn has prompted a shift to more self-service to address the labor issue, Christison says it’s a risky tradeoff that fails to address “the consumption problem. If we dumb down our product selection, if we take the service out of our departments, if we fail to understand our customers’ needs,” she warns, “we’ll be making it easier for them to shop alternative formats or to go to where service is a priority.” ■

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Progressive Grocer - May 2010

Progressive Grocer - May 2010
Nielsen’s Shelf Stoppers/ Spotlight: Candy/Non-ChocolateCandy
Super 50: Steadfast Leaders
The Lempert Report: ConAgra, Celebs Battle Child Hunger
Best Practices: Starting at the Top
Wake-up Call: Coupons Make a Comeback
Store of the Month: Roots and Wings
Harold Lloyd on … Making a Difference: Why Work as a Clerk?
Experience at Large: Put Your Best Customers to Work
Confection: Sweetening the Pot
Tea: Brewing up Sales
Non-alcoholic Beverages: Summer Quenchers
Summer Grilling Special: What a Gas!
Produce: Local and Lovin’ it
IDDBA Show Preview: Recipe for Success
Trends: The Summertime Freeze
Meats & Cheeses: Brown-bagging Sales
Food Industry Insights: Leadership for the Future
Tech Toolbox: A Look at the Latest Solutions
Out of the Box: The Latest Tools of the Trade
Roundtable: The Executioners
Foodservice: Green Machines
What’s Next: Editors’ Picks for Innovative Products

Progressive Grocer - May 2010