FMI Connect 2014

Thousands of supermarket executives, retail buyers, consultants and other industry officials descended upon Chicago earlier this month to attend the joint FMI/United Fresh/Inter-Bev convention at McCormick Place where they were placed in the loop about the latest in new products, technology, equipment and other supermarket mainstays.

FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
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FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
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FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014
FMI Connect 2014

FMI Connect 2014

Unlike the popular Seinfeld episode, there was soup for you and every other show goer at the FMI/United Fresh convention this year. Here, William Ciaramello of The Original SoupMan ladles out a cup of hot Chicken Gumbo.

FMI Connect 2014

Five varieties of The Original SoupMan soups were being sampled at the show. Because their soups are packaged in aseptic boxes instead of traditional tin cans, company officials say their product has a fresher, more homemade taste, and will revolutionize the soup aisle.

FMI Connect 2014

Tony Sarsam, CEO, (left) and Michael Celani, executive vice president, sales & marketing, at Ready Pac display the company’s expanded Bistro Bowls line of portable salads available in 15 varieties, including Italian Salad, Kickin’ BBQ, and new Organic Wrap Kits.

FMI Connect 2014

Offering a filling meal with less than 300 calories, the newest entrants in Ready Pac’s Bistro Bowl line include Turkey Cranberry Baby Kale, Caprese, Chopped Kickin’ BBQ Salad, Chopped Italian Style Salad and Chopped Kale Apple Veggie Salad, made with kale, broccoli, red cabbage, carrots, radicchio, lite lemon poppy seed dressing, apples, celery, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds.

FMI Connect 2014

In addition it its namesake pistachios, POM pomegranates and Halos mandarins, Wonderful Brands is expanding distribution of its Sweet Scarletts Texas grapefruits, billed as the juiciest, sweetest grapefruits on the market. Initially available in the Midwest, Wonderful hopes to take them national during the next growing season.

FMI Connect 2014

A replica of a greenhouse caused show walkers to stop in their tracks and gawk in front of the Nature Fresh Farms booth. To the chagrin of home gardeners, they then learned that the six-foot tall tomato plants were planted on March 1, live 10 months and each plant grows 32 sets of vine tomatoes.

FMI Connect 2014

With 20-something aisles of food to sample it takes something really special to make one stop and grab a celery stick. Yet that is exactly what scores of people were doing at the Truly Good Foods booth where Chad F. Hartman, director of marketing, was sampling the Charlotte, N.C.-based company’s Peanut Butter Melts, candy-like discs in a microwavable cup that when heated act like chocolate and can be used for dipping celery sticks, bananas, apples and even gum drops. The innovative cup has a special bottom that allows consumers to handle it without getting burned.

FMI Connect 2014

The buzz at the Sioux Honey Association booth was that Sue Bee Honey is made by 100% American honeybees and available in a wide variety of sizes and applications, including whipped, and bulk for ingredient use. Company officials (from left) Bruce Nyhammer, Lisa Hansel and Jay Rehurek display some of the most popular Sue Bee products.

FMI Connect 2014

With its velvet ropes and “bouncers” at the entrance to the invite-only Checkout of Tomorrow booth retailers were treated like a Kardashian. Once inside, they were given personalized tours of how the checkout can and will be improved in the near future. Some checkout lanes will have digital LED zipper signage across the top offering shoppers personalized messages...

FMI Connect 2014

Others will have fixtures featuring rounded edges, lighter colors and on-shelf lighting to highlight impulse purchases. These will be especially popular at self-checkout lanes.

FMI Connect 2014

Vertical shelf dividers will increase sales by framing product categories, helping to drive the eye to various impulse purchase segments.

FMI Connect 2014

New technology allows Coca-Cola coolers to have glass doors that constantly change their graphics, increasing theater and excitement for shoppers.

FMI Connect 2014

One way to bring some “theater” into your supermarket is by putting in a popcorn counter. Thanks to Gold Medal Gourmet Popcorn retailers can do just that. Properly packaged, the popcorn has a 3-week shelf life and can be made in-store in a variety of flavors, including butter, caramel and cheese.

FMI Connect 2014

Produce department sales will be getting a jolt from Bing – a new line of caffeinated cherry-based beverages. Available in Bing Cherry, Bing Black Raspberry and Bing Raspberry, the shelf stable cans are sold through the produce department and make excellent mixers.

FMI Connect 2014

Pop-up stores are trendy, but how about a pop-up garden center? New exhibitor Cantley Gardens had a full-size garden center on display on the show floor to demonstrate to retailers how they can increase sales of seasonal plants. Cantley has been selling its pop-up garden centers for 30 years in Canada.

FMI Connect 2014

McCormick & Co. heated up FMI by sampling and displaying a large number of new spices and mixes.

FMI Connect 2014

Among the most popular are gluten-free versions of its Chili Seasoning Mix, Brown Gravy, Taco Mix and Turkey Gravy.

FMI Connect 2014

McCormick’s new Skillet Sauces target millennials who don’t have the skill set or time to add water or another liquid to a dry mix.

FMI Connect 2014

McCormick is expanding its Lawry’s line with regional Crispy Oven Bake breading and marinades that co-brand sister brand Zatarain’s.

FMI Connect 2014

Retailers stopping by the Revionics booth learned about competitive data insights, allowing retailers to easily compare what items are selling at what price at your store and competitors, and to make intelligent decisions when it comes to setting prices.

FMI Connect 2014

Coffee Holding Company exhibiting its range of national and private label brands, including S&W and Café Caribe.

FMI Connect 2014

Premier Roasters is a new proprietary brand created by Coffee Holding Company for H-E-B. Packed in a composite canister, it is modeled after products sold in Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, say company officials.

FMI Connect 2014

Perhaps the most striking booth on the FMI/United show floor was the one belonging to specialty foods firm Sid Wainer & Son. It is designed to emulate a store one might find in the Latin Quarter of Paris. “When we put this booth together we wanted to take everyone out of this big steel building where the show is and take them to a warm passionate place where things smell good and taste good,” says Dr. Henry B. Wainer, president of the New Bedford, Mass.-based company.

FMI Connect 2014

Every bakery associate can now be a mix master thanks to the new Kodiak mixer from Varimixer that debuted at FMI. Since many employees don’t read manuals the Kodiak operates with simple on/off and speed buttons. Made in Denmark, it has a higher height so ingredients can be easily poured onto the counter, the entire item is easy-to-clean, and it has a proprietary splash/safety guard shield, says Andrew Adreani, with Charlotte, N.C.-based Varimixer.

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