NEW YORK -- Food Distributors International, Arlington, Va., and the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade here have agreed on an initiative to develop strong inter-organizational ties under which FDI will provide services to all of the specialty food organization's members.
FDI President and CEO John R. Block and NASFT President John Roberts made the announcement Sept. 8, at FDI's conference in Toronto. Speaking of this new alliance as well as others, such as the one between the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, and NASFT, Roberts commented:
"They in no way compete with each other; they just have different levels of expertise. When you put them together, there is no internal fighting and stronger activities." FDI and NASFT already cooperate in the trade show held each March at Chicago's McCormick Place, and NASFT already taps into FDI's educational programs for the retailers, which NASFT members can use at a discounted price, he noted.
Under the terms of this new agreement, NASFT's 55 distributor members will become full members of FDI, with direct access to all of FDI's regular member benefits. NASFT's 2,250 manufacturer/supplier members will become affiliated with FDI and will have access to FDI programs at supplier community rates and terms.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for our two associations to work more closely together and to do so more efficiently," said Block. "We look forward to enriching our association and activities with this influx of new members, all of whom are involved in the food industry either as distributors or suppliers."
"As a specialty foods supplier, I thought it was a great opportunity to have the specialty food industry represented at the conference, which attracted a very informative and high-powered group," said Jack Porter, vice president, sales, Kehe Food Distributors, Romeoville, Ill.
"Specialty foods have a very substantial role in the supermarket industry, and it [the alliance] validated our industry. I think it's a great thing for us to share in some of the issues."
Roberts said FDI's array of services, programs, and legislative expertise will provide NASFT members with solid opportunities to improve their operations.
The agreement also provides for the two organizations to work together on mutual issues of concern on Capitol Hill and before the regulatory agencies. Other areas of cooperation will include conferences, meetings, trade shows, communications and other services.
Associations develop the skills and programs that their members want, Roberts noted. "At NASFT, from the very beginning, our job was to bring the unique buyers interested in specialty foods together with the unique sellers. Our expertise built around that program, a trade show that both sides responded to, that became the major source of our revenue," he said, referring to the summer, winter and now spring Fancy Food Shows.
But, he added that NASFT had never developed a strong legislative capability, which FDI has.
FDI, one of the older organizations, concentrates on physical aspects like fleet and warehouse management programs, handling of damaged goods, Roberts said. "Their educational programs talk about physical logistics very heavily, such as moving goods, and training people in warehouse management.
"If you look at the food industry as one big corporation with a lot of divisions, we are finding synergies.