Convention delegates unite to grow the category at AFFI's 2002 Western Frozen Food Convention. (AFFI's Washington Watch).
Tony Snow, host of FOX News Sunday and a leader in the new generation of conservatives, spoke to delegates at the Convention's Opening Breakfast with an insider's perspective on the current political climate in the United States. Snow offered insights on how Washington, D.C., has changed since September 11, discussed the importance of this year's congressional elections, and addressed several public policy issues. of interest to frozen food executives. With 2002 being a crucial election year, Snow's thorough analysis of the latest trends and predictions about the political future proved truly engaging.
"This year's successful Convention can be attributed to the high energy of the event's delegates, the tremendous amount of business conducted by the delegates, as well the quality of speakers and educational sessions. The Western Frozen Food Convention continues to be the premiere event for the industry's leaders to gather together to conduct business and grow the category," said Leslie G. Sarasin, AFFI's president and chief executive officer.
Enhancing and developing business is always the highlight of the Western Frozen Food Convention, and this year was no different. The roundtable, "Growth by [Packaging] Design," was planned to help delegates understand the importance of frozen food packaging to consumers. Mona Doyle, a consumer perception expert and trend spotter specializing in food and food packaging, shared her insights on the latest developments in frozen food packaging. She discussed how perceptions of packaging are changing and how marketers can make utilization and buying decisions easier for consumers.
B. Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Information Services Division of the National Restaurant Association, spoke to Convention delegates during the roundtable, "Foodservice: Harvesting Maximum Growth Potential." Riehle presented the encouraging findings of a study recently conducted among restaurant operators which revealed the foodservice industry's high level of dependence on frozen foods as a high quality product, and how restaurants will rely on frozen foods more in the future.
In addition to the Opening Breakfast and the two roundtable discussions, AFFI also held a Distribution and Logistics General Session. Earl Eisenhart, principal of Government Relations Services, Leslie G. Sarasin, AFFI's president and chief executive officer, and Nick Walsh, western field administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, gave an informative presentation on measures the federal government is taking in response to the heightened awareness of the need for increased food security, particularly as it applies to the transportation industry.
The 2003 Western Frozen Food Convention will be held February 22-26 in San Diego, California.
Frozen Food Industry Celebrates 72 Years; Industry Continues To Thrive on Innovation
In March, AFFI recognized the 72nd anniversary of the frozen food industry. On March 6, 1930, Clarence Birdseye introduced the first line of frozen foods at a retail store in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The initial line of frozen food products, which were stocked by 10 stores, consisted of 18 cuts of frozen meat, as well as oysters, fish fillets, spinach, peas and a variety of fruits and berries. In total, 26 items were available in display cases eight feet long and 30 inches deep. Today, the frozen food category accounts for nearly $30 billion in supermarket and grocery sales nationwide, and more than $40 billion in U.S. sales to foodservice operations, such as restaurants, hospitals and schools. Nearly 1,000 new frozen food product introductions occur each year, with sales growth continuing to escalate at more than five percent annually.
"American culture has changed dramatically since frozen food products were first introduced 72 years ago. But the demand for convenient, nutritious, high quality and great tasting food that ignited the industry in 1930, is even more prevalent with today's hectic lifestyles. Clarence Birdseye's innovation paved the way for frozen food companies to be as successful as they are today. That spirit of innovation remains strong as today's frozen food manufacturers are capitalizing on new freezing technologies, improvements in packaging and the drive to bring a wider variety of products to consumers," said Leslie G. Sarasin, AFFI's president and chief executive officer.
In addition to being the first to freeze food in a package that could be sold directly to the consumer, Birdseye also is credited with being the first to realize the importance of freezing food rapidly to avoid damage to the quality of the food. The freezing process has certain other inherent benefits, including the ability to lock in nutrients in fruits and vegetables. Following years of scientific study, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled in 1998, that fruits and vegetables picked at peak freshness and immediately frozen contain as many, or often more, nutrients than their raw equivalents.
AFFI Announces Promotions Of Tabaka and Trotter
AFFI recently promoted Adam Tabaka to the position of legislative assistant and Kainoa Trotter to the position of conventions and meetings specialist.
Previously, Tabaka served as an administrative assistant to the legislative department. In his new role, Tabaka will assist Michael Gill, vice president of legislative affairs, with tracking and analyzing issues that impact AFFI member companies. In addition to public policy work, Tabaka will assist with all aspects of AFFI's political involvement, including communications with the national political parties and AFFI's political action committee, AFFI-PAC.
Tabaka is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he earned undergraduate degrees in International Studies and Political Science.
In making the announcement, Leslie G. Sarasin, AFFI's president and chief executive officer said, "During his time with AFFI, Adam has proven to be an indispensable member of the AFFI staff. In his new role as legislative assistant, his extensive education in public policy and international affairs will continue AFFI's strong commitment to government relations."
Prior to joining AFFI, Tabaka worked at the Virginia Tech Center for Survey Research, where he worked as an interviewer. In this role, Tabaka developed, conducted and performed surveys for the state of Virginia.
Trotter previously served as an administrative assistant to the membership and conventions and meetings departments. Trotter now will report directly to the senior director of conventions and meetings and will work closely with Jenny Mitchell, also an AFFI conventions and meetings specialist.
In addition to assisting with preparations for AFFI's conferences and conventions, Trotter will be responsible for registrations, housing and meeting room assignments for AFFI's Western Frozen Food Convention, Distribution and Logistics Conference, Government Action Summit, and the National Frozen Food Convention.
"Kainoa has been a dedicated and driven worker since joining AFFI in April. In his new position, he will continue to develop and strengthen the Institute's conventions and meetings planning efforts," said Sarasin.
Trotter is a graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he earned his undergraduate degree in Sociology. Prior to joining AFFI, Trotter participated in the Australia Work Abroad Program, working for Computershare in Sydney, Australia. In this position, Trotter maintained employee reimbursement accounts and accounts payable.
AFFI Submits Comments To FSIS on Elimination Of Pizza Standard
In an effort to stimulate further an already rapidly growing market, AFFI recently submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service in support of the agency's proposal to rescind the standard of identity for frozen meat-topped pizzas.
The proposal would permit frozen meat pizzas to have a minimum meat content of two percent cooked or three percent raw meat, the same level for any product to be considered a meat food product under USDA jurisdiction. The current standard for frozen meat pizzas is a minimum of 12 percent cooked or 15 percent raw meat content along with crust, cheese and a tomato-based sauce.
"AFFI believes the current pizza standard of identity no longer reflects the marketplace and those consumers that the frozen pizza industry serves. The pizza standard is inconsistent with the variety that consumers have come to expect in pizza," wrote Leslie G. Sarasin, AFFI's president and chief executive officer.
AFFI agrees with the agency's determination that the standards may inhibit manufacturers of federally inspected frozen pizza from producing and marketing new styles of pizzas that consumers demand. In addition, elimination of the standard will benefit consumers' nutritional choices.
"Elimination of the standard will simplify the ability of frozen pizza manufacturers to specially formulate pizzas that are more consistent with USDA's nutritional guidance, such as reducing fat and cholesterol in American diets," wrote Sarasin.
Supermarket sales of frozen pizza have increased more than 60 percent over the last five years, totaling $2.5 billion in 2000. Frozen pizza represents one of the fastest growing segments of the frozen food category.
The AFFI-managed National Frozen Pizza Institute requested the action on February 4, 1999, claiming the current standards prevent the industry from providing consumers with a lower fat product and with innovative styles of pizzas.