RANDOLPH, Mass. -- NEDDA, the New England Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, has changed its name to NEFFA, short for the Northeast Fresh Foods Alliance, to acknowledge the trade group's broadening geographic coverage and its members' expanding fresh-food interests.
"We think the new name better reflects what's happening in the industry, what our members are trying to accomplish with their sales and marketing efforts," said Andrea Walker, executive director of the organization, which is based here.
"We needed to be more encompassing. The former name gave the impression that we represented dairy deli and bakery, to the exclusion of other fresh products," Walker told SN.
Walker said the new name more accurately reflects what the organization now is: an "alliance" of the different segments that make up the burgeoning fresh-food business.
"We've actually been an alliance for fresh foods for quite some time, and now our name has caught up with our activities, purpose and vision," Walker said. The term "alliance," she said, also "defines us as a team working toward a common goal."
Supermarket chains, she said, have entered new market areas; companies have merged with others in new areas; brokers are covering more territory; and retailers, responding to consumers' needs, have changed the configuration and the merchandising of their fresh-food departments.
"There's so much cross merchandising as supermarkets try to address the needs of the consumer. Also, as they actively compete with food-service operations for the consumer's dollar, the supermarket's fresh departments are working more closely together to create meal solutions," Walker said. Thus, NEFFA's scope now encompasses fresh meat, produce, organic food, prepared food, and specialty fresh products.
NEFFA will not stray far from its roots, however. Dairy, deli and bakery will still be the primary focus. "The majority of our members still fall into those categories," Walker stressed. "But the fact is that they have broadened their categories. For example, there are organic product manufacturers within the dairy category and bakery items, like stuffed breads, that could be considered meal solutions."
The name change had been discussed at committee and board meetings over the past year, Walker said. It was approved by the general membership and was announced by the organization's president Sue Fraser at the annual general membership meeting.
The organization has been taking other steps to broaden itself over the last year, said Lavinia Macala, NEFFA's sales and marketing director. It formed a new fresh meat committee, for example, and created a more diverse roster of educational seminars for its convention set for April 28 and 29 at Boston's World Trade Center.
"We're making that event into more of a conference," Macala said. "Education and networking are the lifelines of an alliance."
Last year the seminar agenda focused for the first time on home-meal replacement, and it will do so again this year, with sessions on produce and fresh meat included, Macala pointed out.
Macala noted that Bill Santos, fresh meat buyer for Star Market Co., Cambridge, Mass., and Kevin Hade, production manager at Ukrop's Super Markets, Richmond, Va., have joined the lineup of seminar speakers this year. Ira Blumenthal, president of Atlanta-based Co-Opportunities, will return as keynote speaker this year to present an update on the state of HMR.