Foodservice Evolving to Food-Away-From-Home Industry; IFMA Takes the Lead in Representing Industry Transformation

By Mike Schwartz, Senior Vice President, Member Value

IFMA convened the food-away-from-home ecosystem at its Presidents Conference in November by hosting executives from Dot Foods, Sysco, Shake Shack, and Kerry.


Last year, IFMA’s board of directors made the decision to grow more inclusive, more diverse, and more deeply engaged across the food industry than ever before in our 70-year history.

Since 1952, IFMA has focused on food manufacturers. We are proud of that legacy and continue to view manufacturers as the heart of all that we do. Now, for their benefit and the benefit of everyone working in food-away-from-home, we have opened membership to the full industry. And that comes with a range of new opportunities to connect and learn – and get easy access to the quality of information we plan to deliver through this new communication channel.

That’s why we created the IFMA Food Industry Pulse monthly newsletter, which will provide you with need-to-know information from across the food-away-from-home ecosystem – the co-dependent world of food producers, manufacturers, distributors, supply chain, service providers, and operators that we serve. Developing the newsletter is, in part, our response to the evolution that the entire industry has been experiencing these past few years.

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IFMA’s New Purpose, Vision, and Mission

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Purpose: To empower, nurture, and connect the food-away-from-home ecosystem so it may thrive and responsibly meet consumer needs.

Vision: To champion an inclusive food-away-from-home ecosystem that collaborates to build innovative solutions that advance the industry.

Mission: Be the agent of change leading a dynamic, transparent and engaged food-away-from-home community that will help grow our members’ businesses.

The pandemic fast-tracked changes in foodservice that were already underway. We know that the range of locations for buying food-away-from-home has been slowly evolving for years. COVID sped up that evolution.

Through the development and adoption of a new strategic plan, IFMA has committed to be an agent of change and to help lead the full food-away-from-home ecosystem to increased cross-segment engagement and understanding. By bringing everyone in the industry together, IFMA will create opportunities for different segments within our membership to work collaboratively on solutions to critical industry challenges.

Right now, most of the segments of food-away-from-home belong to exclusive associations that offer programs and events that allow them to share information. Manufacturers talk to manufacturers, distributors to distributors, restaurateurs to restaurateurs, and so on. That can be extraordinarily productive, and we believe it’s important for these peer organizations of ours to continue their work. But we also see a void when it comes to opportunities for bringing the larger community together.

We’re offering a neutral place for convening, where competitors and clients can form true partnerships – because solutions to one’s own problems can often be found in another’s best practices.

We believe cross-segment communication and engagement will strengthen our industry and break down some of the siloes that hold us back. By creating the Food Industry Pulse newsletter, open to everyone in the industry, to promote diverse subject matter and build cross-industry understanding, we hope to build a common language and identify common goals for everyone who contributes to the success of the food-away-from-home community.

Communication is key – and we have some additional exciting communications news coming up – but our efforts will go beyond that. We will be spearheading hands-on projects for decision-makers across our membership that address major industry challenges. We will launch our first multi-year, cross-industry initiative later this year. Our intent is to create actionable solutions under the IFMA umbrella that benefit everyone in the food chain, from manufacturers to consumers. We’ll release more on that soon.

You are all a critical component of everything we do. The courage this industry has shown through the past few difficult years has inspired our association’s transformation. As we revolutionize our organization, we will create a powerful coalition of members that can change the business landscape for the better.

We will be sharing our efforts and important industry developments from across food-away-from home in the IFMA Food Industry Pulse newsletter. Stay tuned!