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In this month’s edition of Facts, Figures & The Future, Michael Sansolo, FMI senior vice president, notes that even as new issues merge for the supermarket industry, it is important to remember that “in times like these, it pays to remember that there have always been times like these."

Sansolo writes, “It's worth thinking about that as we start a new year, and we think of the challenges we face today and those faced by this industry throughout its long history. This lesson came back to me vividly recently when discussing the 80th anniversary of IGA, certainly one of the more unique and enduring institutions in the food industry. There is no way of knowing what IGA founder J. Frank Grimes would think of the world of 2007, with our incredible range of changes and complexity. Then again, he might survey the situation and think he had seen it all before.”

For example:

• “Today we all talk about the complexity of consumer demands, made only more complicated by the new waves of shoppers arriving daily in the U.S. from far away lands. Yet, the world of the 1920s was equally in changes, and the only difference in the immigration patterns is the names of the countries those immigrants left.”

• “Every decade has seen the emergence of competitive formats that in some way threatened, challenged and reshaped the industry. For example, the 1920s had powerhouse companies and many of the same concerns about the power of large companies that we discuss today. There's no more sure sign of channel blurring than this: all the supermarket formats that IGA operators employ today didn't even exist in 1926 when IGA was founded.”

“No doubt if any of us are lucky enough to see the world of 2086 - 80 years from now - we'd see a world that makes the challenges and changes we face pale by comparison,” Sansolo writes. “But the genius of a great idea is that it holds up in changing times.”

In other F3 stories:

• Phil Lempert looks at the announcement by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it has concluded that meat and milk from cloned animals are safe to eat and drink and should be allowed to enter the food supply - but without any labeling.

• There is a look at a new ACNielsen study saying that “Once again, as Americans look at each other and say ‘Happy New Year,’ they also should look at themselves in the mirror and say Thank God for the Portuguese.’

“Why? Because of 43 countries around the world, Portugal has the highest percentage of citizens - 23 percent - that has no money left over after they paid their basic living expenses. It is a dubious honor, and one that the United States held until last year, when America fell into second place.”

• There’s also a look at tequila, the “misunderstood” liquor, and a report on how to merchandise frozen pizzas around the Super Bowl.

And, there’s much more.

To get your copy of F3, go to:

F3 is a joint production of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), ACNielsen, and Phil Lempert.

(Full disclosure: MNB Content Guy Kevin Coupe is a contributor to F3.)
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