Consolidations -- a trend that can be spotted throughout all facets of the food industry -- determined, in some cases, whether or not a region hosted a formal National Frozen Food Month promotion.
Representatives from some regional and state associations told SN they did not organize an event because their area retailers, brokers or manufacturers were in the midst of merging with other companies or consolidating their operations. A preoccupation with changing corporate structures left those companies little time to participate in the promotion.
Metropolitan Kansas City, a region with a history of strong NFFM promotions, did not have any association activities planned this year because of industry consolidations. Larry Walden, president, Kansas City Frozen Food Association, told SN the group had a difficult time convincing manufacturers to participate. "Maybe it was bad timing this year. ConAgra went from a broker force to a direct sales force. The broker was in a lame duck role, so I'm sure he didn't push real hard to do it."
Gerald Carter, president of the Central Indiana association, told SN that industry consolidation also constricted his association's efforts.
"With just Marsh and Kroger left here for the local brokers, most of the local brokers were in a state of flux with purchasing by brokers outside of the market area," Carter said. NFFM promotions, according to him, were entirely left up to central Indiana's retailers.
Though Jerry Marshall, president of the Minnesota Frozen Food Association, told SN his region had a strong local promotion, one area wholesaler was forced to curtail its NFFM activities this year because of corporate restructuring.
"We ran the usual ad program, but as far as anything way over and above anything in the past, we didn't do that this year due to what Supervalu is going through right now," said Chuck Dunford, category manager of frozen foods at Supervalu (Northern Region), Minneapolis.
Dunford said Supervalu is consolidating some of its operations and the resulting corporate changes have left employees with little time to plan special promotions.
"Here in our offices, we had 40 people. In January, we brought in 23 new employees. And because of all the training that we had, it just wasn't the right time to try to do a full-blown frozen food month."
Guy Wheeler, president of the Eastern New York Frozen Food Association, cited a similar problem with Grand Union closing a warehouse..