Last week, FPI members gathered together for our 81st annual meeting. It was an impressive round up of supply chain partners, with nearly 90 raw material and machinery suppliers, converters, foodservice distributors and operators in attendance. What was the draw for so many folks?
Maybe it was the speakers and topics… We offered two content-filled sessions. The first session, entitled “Navigating the Rough Legislative and Regulatory Waters” included presentations by Devon Hill of Keller and Heckman LLP on regulatory pressures on food and beverage packaging, followed by Meghan Stasz from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who gave an update on extended producer responsibility for packaging. Devon and Meghan’s presentations perhaps scared a few of our members, but it was important to understand the current and potential threats to the packaging industry. More specifically to foodservice packaging, Mike Levy from the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group and I gave an update on the legislative hot spots for foodservice packaging. And yes, there are a few, with threats to not just one or two specific materials or products, but all foodservice packaging. As suppliers to the foodservice industry, our members are always interested to hear from their customers, and at this meeting, attendees got to hear “What’s Keeping Operators Awake at Night? Their Perspectives on Legislative Threats.” Panelists included Laura Abshire from the National Restaurant Association, Dan Colegrove of DineEquity and Carol Patterson at Tim Hortons. While each panelist offered a different perspective, it was clear that they have a lot more on the plates than just packaging bans and mandates.
The second session was our biennial outlook on foodservice packaging materials. Whether attendees were interested in paper, plastic, bioplastics or aluminum, there was something for everyone. Speakers for this session included Poyry’s Kathy Kneer (paper), Peter Feng of IHS (plastics), Steve Davies, representing SPI’s Bioplastics Council and long-time aluminum pundit Lloyd O'Carroll, now with Northcoast Research. Their insights (whether good or bad news) on the raw materials used in foodservice packaging were useful for all throughout the value chain.
[Members are reminded that copies of the speakers’ slides are available here. Members must sign in to view. If you have forgotten your login, click the green member sign-in button above, and click “forgot login”]
If it wasn’t for the thought-provoking presentations, perhaps folks wanted the opportunity to have a private tour and dinner at Baltimore’s famed National Aquarium. I was surprised to learn how many attendees had never been to the aquarium (or even Baltimore!). If attendees came to view the fascinating sea creatures, network with current and potential suppliers and customers, or simply take a much-needed break, the aquarium certainly delivered and created a memorable evening.
My last guess as to why we had so many attendees has to be that FPI’s membership continues to grow, and members appreciate that our semi-annual meetings are the only events solely focused on foodservice packaging in North America. It’s no wonder that they are consistently ranked as a top FPI member benefit. Hope to see you at one of our meetings in 2015!
Posted By Lynn M. Dyer (President) | 10/28/2014 12:54:56 PM