Takin’ Care of Business at AFFI Convention in San Diego

For more than four decades, the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) has hosted annual conventions exclusively for the frozen food industry. This year’s edition of AFFI-CON, appropriately themed “Takin’ Care of Business,” will begin on Saturday, February 20, and conclude on Wednesday, the 23rd, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, California.

Manchester Grand

More than 1,400 industry professionals are expected to attend the gathering, which brings together processors, logistics providers, equipment manufacturers and other suppliers, distributors, retailers and foodservice operators from all sectors of the frozen food and beverage sector to conduct business and learn about key industry issues.

In addition to scheduled appointments in suites and hotel rooms, and informal meeting in the lobby, hallways and registration area, as well as charts during breakfast and lunch sessions, business will discussed on the links at nearby Camp Pendleton where the Frozen Food Foundation Golf Classic will take place from Noon until 5:30 PM on February 20.

Those attending AFFI-CON from abroad not taking part in the golf outing may opt to join an international buying mission scheduled for 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM.

All delegates are invited to a welcome reception from 6 to 7 PM, with first-time attendees and convention veterans encouraged to get a head start on mixing and mingling from 5 to 6 PM.

Conventioneers will be on their own for dinner, and as always buyers and sellers will convene at restaurants and bars in the hotel and around town. Those seeking musical entertainment after dining may want to check out the Jam Session in the Hyatt’s Grand D ballroom from 9:30 to 11 PM.

affi con art enh

FMSA Impact on Imported Foods
Beginning at 10 AM on Sunday, February 21, AFFI’s International Processors Council will feature Dan Solis, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director of import operations in the Los Angeles district, and Mark FeDuke, director of operations at VLM Foods Inc., addressing the impact of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on imported foods. The presentation will provide food importers – including retailers, brokers and companies sourcing finished goods from abroad – with information about the scope of FDA’s recently finalized Foreign Supplier Verification Program rule. It will cover general requirements of the rule, compliance and enforcement. 

Next up on Sunday, at 1 PM, AFFI’s Communications Council will share results of the Institute’s recently conducted frozen food consumer segmentation study. Elisa Vitalo, vice president of the Edelman global communications and marketing firm, will identify macro trends in the frozen food category and help those in attendance gain a better understanding of the consumer mindset with respect to frozen foods.

Sunday’s sessions will conclude with the AFFI Logistics & Supply Chain Council’s meeting at 3:30 PM. It will feature executives from some of the USA’s premier intermodal and third party logistics providers discussing the future of rail transportation as a viable option for distribution of frozen food products.

Representatives from Wendy’s Supply Chain Co-Op, BNSF and Armada Supply Chain Solutions, among others, will review the new technologies currently being implemented as well as what’s on the horizon and what the future of intermodal could mean to the frozen food business.

A Craft Beer & Wine Tasting Reception is on tap from 6 to 7 PM in the hotel’s Grand D Ballroom.

Dick Vitale Kicks Off Monday’s Activities
On Monday, February 22, Dick Vitale will serve as the keynote speaker during the breakfast session, which begins at 7:30 AM, prior to the annual meeting. The college basketball analyst is a highly regarded ABC Sports and ESPN personality.

A session addressing food waste solutions, presented by the Frozen Food Foundation, is set for 10 to 11:30 AM.

The Frozen Food Research Forum & Luncheon, organized by the AFFI Scientific Advisory Council and open to AFFI members only, will be held from 12:30 to 2 PM.

Tuesday’s Agenda
On Tuesday, February 23, at 9 AM, the AFFI Public Policy Council will host a session on rules and regulations for frozen food.  It will include a presentation on US and Codex Frozen Fruit and Vegetable Grades and Standards.  Richard Petersen, a standardization specialist with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, will provide an update on current grades and standards for frozen fruits and vegetables.

US Grade Standards for vegetables and fruits developed by AMS are voluntary and provide the fruit and vegetable industry with a uniform language for describing the quality and condition of commodities in the marketplace.

The Public Policy Council session will also include an overview of FDA and USDA regulatory issues impacting the frozen food and beverage industry, and provide information about AFFI’s current regulatory priorities and activities.

A number of meetings open exclusively to members will take place during the convention. The Frozen Potato Products Institute’s board of directors will convene on February 22, 2:30-4 PM, and the AFFI Executive Committee will meet on February 23, 3-5 PM.

Tabletop Exhibits
The convention will also feature more than 30 exhibits promoting products and services from suppliers to the industry. They will be set up at “The Hub” located near the registration desk in the hotel’s Seaport Foyer, where personnel from exhibiting companies will be available to make presentations and answer questions at their display tables from 1 to 7 PM on February 20, 8 AM to 5 PM on February 21, and 9 AM to 4 PM on February 22.

Among the exhibitors are Qingdao TPF Foodstuff Co., Jealous Fruits, South Mill Mushroom Sales, OctoFrost Inc., TOMRA Sorting Food, Key Technology, RefrigWear, Inc., PIGO srl, Interstate Cold Storage, Lineage Logistics and Tippmann Group/Interstate Warehousing.

For more information, contact Kaitlyn Palatucci, the McLean, Virginia-based trade association’s vice president of conferences, via e-mail at kpalatucci@affi.com, or by telephone at +1 703-821-0770.