WASHINGTON -- The Food Marketing Institute here has instituted a number of format changes that will be seen for the first time at the annual convention May 7 to 10 in Chicago, Timothy M. Hammonds, FMI president and chief executive officer, told SN. One of the more substantial changes involves the convention's closing day, Wednesday. FMI has scheduled a general session on supercenters for the morning, but there will be no exhibit-floor time that day, breaking with the tradition of past conventions.
enter session will be held at Chicago's Sheraton Hotel. The balance of convention events are at McCormick Place Meanwhile, in exchange for the loss of exhibit-floor time on Wednesday, exhibit-floor hours will be begin at 10:30 a.m on the other days of the convention -- Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. In previous years, the exhibit hall opened at noon each day. "People will go to educational sessions on the final morning of the convention, but many tend to leave after that and not go back to the exhibit floor," Hammonds said. "So we're holding an educational program on supercenters that morning that should be of interest to all attendees." Another changed aspect of this year's convention will be attendees' ability to reserve space in the workshops of their choice. At a kiosk in the members' lounge they will be able to select which workshops they want to attend by using an EXPO card. The cards will be contained in their registration packets. Based on those reservations, seats will be roped off in each session to accommodate those who reserved space. Other changes at the convention are these: · Workshops will begin at 8:30 a.m. instead of 9 a.m., with the second morning session ending at 11:30 a.m. instead of noon. This is intended to allow more exhibit-floor time. · Two new pavilions -- for private label and warehouse/distribution -- will be featured on the exhibit floor, along with a produce pavilion, based on member surveys of which categories they would like to see condensed into a single display area. Last year's convention included a pavilion for specialty foods and wines. Although those items will be included on the exhibit floor, they will not be condensed into a pavilion this year. · The National Grocers Association will conduct a workshop on wholesaler-retailer relations, marking the first time NGA has been so involved at an FMI annual convention. The workshop is quid pro quo for a speech Hammonds was invited to give at NGA's annual convention last February in Las Vegas. Hammonds' topic was the link between consumer research and advertising and promotional programs.