As the year starts to wind down, I’ve been reflecting on the highlights from this year. Here’s what I came up with – please feel free to share yours in the comment box below.
A growing membership. FPI gained 5 new converter members and 7 raw material and machinery suppliers. That means our membership is up to 57 companies. We’ve come a long way since 2005 when our membership count was just 24 – especially given the economic difficulties felt by all and the continuing M&A activity in our industry.
And, it seems like just about every other week we have another foodservice distributor or operator ask if they may join FPI’s free affiliate member program (the answer is always yes!). That means our reach is now extending to over 180 representatives from 125 companies purchasing foodservice packaging in North America.
Launching into social media. When we hired a consultant to put together a social media strategy for us earlier this year, we weren’t really sure where it would take us. Would anyone pay attention? Would they care about what we had to say? With the implementation phase behind us, we are feeling REALLY good about how it’s going. These blog posts are getting tremendous interest (FPI’s inaugural post back in July is up to over 1,100 views!). FPI’s presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter continues to grow, with our “likes” and “followers” growing daily. Kudos to Jennifer on making this dream a reality.
But let’s not forget about traditional media. Our requests for interviews from traditional media outlets have nearly doubled in one year. And, what’s interesting is it’s not just the trade publications that are reaching out to us. 2013 saw requests from far broader outlets – with larger circulations – like Prevention and the Wall Street Journal.
Marvelous meetings. It’s no wonder that FPI’s semi-annual meetings are consistently rated Number One by FPI members when it comes to the benefits they receive as members. Our meetings this year in New York City (with our sister association, Pack2Go Europe!) and Memphis were some of our best, if I do say so myself. The networking, the quality and content of the meeting, the terrific venues… I could go on and on. But, I think others must agree that we’re doing something right, as our attendance continues to increase, especially among our operator and distributor members. Did you miss a meeting? While we can’t help you network if you don’t attend the meeting, members can take a look at speaker slides from past presentations by clicking here.
The return of the FPI/QSR Foodservice Packaging Awards. It had been five years since FPI teamed up with our friends at QSR to promote innovations in foodservice packaging. It was a bit of a slow start, but in the end, we received over 120 entries and showcased some terrific packaging among the winners. As I said in my blog post about the awards program, "While the judges come and go, the number of entries fluctuates and the locale for the awards ceremony changes, one thing is constant. Each time we offer this competition, it’s inspiring to see the thought process that goes into each new innovation in our industry. Our industry is dedicated to better serving its customers and their customer’s customer and showing why foodservice packaging is truly the sensible solution." That about sums it up.
Tackling one of our industry’s greatest challenges: recovery. Last, but certainly not least, is FPI’s recovery work through our Paper Recovery Alliance (PRA) and Plastics Recovery Group (PRG). Taking the time to identify the barriers to increased recovery of foodservice packaging – and doing what we can to overcome them – has been the central focus for this important work in 2013. We have so many irons in the fire on this front it’s hard to keep track of all of them, but stay tuned as we release key information and resources in the near future, like understanding the impacts of food residue, benchmarking current recovery in the U.S. and Canada, knowing how our products flow through a material recovery facility and getting a better understanding of the key end markets for the recovered products. This project is long and challenging, but Natha has been doing a phenomenal job managing all the fast-moving pieces.
There is no question in my mind that all of these accomplishments – and many others – are helping to affirm FPI as the authority on foodservice packaging. That FPI is an association “that matters” (as one of our members said to me recently). But, Natha, Jennifer and I will not rest on our laurels. We have plenty more work to do for FPI. But we’ll take this holiday season to be thankful for our successes and reenergize for the work ahead of us in 2014.
Happy holidays to all and best wishes for another prosperous New Year!
Posted By Lynn M. Dyer (President) | 12/17/2013 9:40:55 AM