MIAMI -- Grocery Manufacturers of America, Washington, hopes to demonstrate that its members are living up to the challenge of Efficient Consumer Response by becoming a full partner in planning and coordinating the upcoming Productivity Conference here.
The show, to be held Oct. 27 to 30, will be jointly sponsored by GMA and Food Distributors International, Falls Church, Va., along with a second tier of sponsors who have a lesser degree of input into conference speakers, seminars and show floor layout.
"We thought if we were going to suggest changes we had to step up to be a full partner," said Pat Kiernan, senior vice president of industry relations at GMA. "We saw an increased need on the part of our members that, for the meeting to be productive, more discussion had to occur around the integration of the supply chain."
GMA was inspired to get more involved in the Productivity conference following a powerful keynote address given by Michael Wright, president of Supervalu, Eden Prairie, Minn., at last year's conference. Wright chastised manufacturers for not honoring their side of the bargain in ECR initiatives and called on them to show their commitment to new technology.
As a response, GMA is spearheading a new "partnering pavilion" of manufacturer exhibitors on the show floor. "It's an attempt to help GMA members who have invested in new systems and logistical procedures to demonstrate them" to retailer and wholesaler partners, Kiernan said.
About 12 manufacturers have already agreed to participate in the pavilion, including Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati; Nabisco Biscuit Co., East Hanover, N.J., and Hershey Foods, Hershey, Pa. Kiernan noted that not all manufacturers are comfortable yet with sharing their technology initiatives with the larger public. "It may take us several years to get a full partnering pavilion going because, frankly, there are some manufacturers who, while not saying no, are just not yet ready in their minds."