Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today recognized an outstanding trading partner advocate in the food retail community, Joe Burke, vice president of retail industry affairs at Coca-Cola Refreshments. Burke received the William H. Albers Award at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference for his retail industry relations in the supplier community.
Reflecting on Burke’s cooperative influence, FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin noted how Burke helped to forge the FMI Associate Member Council, which is now called the ‘Industry Collaboration Council,’ saying, “This Council continues to evolve and serve as the platform through which our knowledge partners participate in industry research, conferences and events, and joint industry opportunities – Joe has served as our co-chair for two years and his imprint forever remains.”
Sarasin continued, “From a personal perspective, Joe has been a tremendous supporter in recent years as FMI has undergone a transition. I am forever in his debt for the counsel and wisdom he has shared as we have evolved in this organization.”
Burke began his career with Coca-Cola in 1978. He earned his bachelors and masters degrees with the support of Coca-Cola, and Burke tells stories of rising at 3 a.m. to study for hours before going to work. Retiring this year from the company after more than three loyal decades of leadership and service, Burke leaves behind a legacy of alliances.
Coca-Cola Americas’ President Steve Cahillane remarked, “Joe Burke is a great choice to receive FMI’s William H. Albers Award. In his 34 years at Coca-Cola, Joe has been not only a tremendous leader for our business but also a tireless advocate for food retailers across North America. With his dedication, vision, and commitment to working with partners, he has left a lasting mark on the industry.
“Joe’s many contributions to the retail industry are exceeded only by his passion. He is a true people person with more contacts and relationships in food retail than anyone I know. He understands retailers and customers and their unique challenges on a profound level.”
Many colleagues attest that Burke’s major contribution to industry collaboration is the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council. He has been managing director of both the grocery and convenience store councils for nearly 15 years. The councils bring together groups of leading retail executives for four-year terms to work on projects benefiting the entire industry. Recent topics have included: social media, winning back meal time, linking health and eating, raising management performance, reducing turnover, reducing out-of-stocks and understanding how shoppers select which store to shop.
In one of his most noted accomplishments, Burke was a co-manager of the Global Retail Forum in Beijing in 2008, marking the Council’s 30th anniversary, and gathering 160 past and present Council members to tackle the subject of environmental sustainability. The event encouraged retailers and wholesalers from five continents to work toward a common goal.
While the industry celebrates his win of the William H. Albers Award, according to his friends, Burke enjoys telling the story of how he had to prove himself worthy of Patty, his wife of 35 years, to Patty’s father – “He considers that the best thing he ever did.”