The Promise of 2021

Tim O'Connor
Managing Editor and Communications Manager, FEDA

For most of us, 2020 has been the year that felt like a decade. Since the COVID-19 virus reached the United States in March, it’s just been an endless stream of bad news. We’ve all gone through the emotional and financial ups and downs of the pandemic, the jarring starts and stops for the foodservice industry, and the uncertainty that has paralyzed our ability to plan.

But it finally feels like the sun is starting to peek through the clouds again. Even as the coronavirus surged again this fall, we finally started seeing some bright spots. Two potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates– from Moderna and Pfizer – are showing promise in trials, with each demonstrating an effective rate of greater than 90 percent. If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, the vaccines will begin distribution in the coming months and life can start to look a little normal again. That’s outstanding news for the foodservice industry, as eating out is the second most popular activity people are looking forward to resuming once the pandemic ends, according to Kantar, a consulting firm that tracks social media sentiment.

Once we are all freed from the pandemic, the foodservice industry stands to bounce back with a vengeance. Consumers will be eager to reconnect with their friends and loved ones at their favorite local haunts, and workers migrating back to their offices will be excited to refamiliarize themselves with the nearby lunchtime hotspots. Many dealers and distributors are preparing now to handle the influx of new business activity that will come alongside this resurgence.

So too is FEDA building toward the future. This issue highlights the key events and programs that FEDA is developing for the next year that will drive progress and help our members determine how to adjust and advance their business as the economy recovers. We also review the informative discussion that happened during the Partner Exchange sessions at the 2020 FEDA Virtual Annual Conference (page 18), which identified some of the main points of friction between channel partners and ways to work better together.

Cooperation will be needed to help guide the industry into the post-pandemic world, which is why FEDA is strengthening its relationship with organizations such as the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and its new president and CEO, Eric Hoplin. In this issue (page 24), Hoplin, who spoke at the FEDA Advocacy Council meeting in December, shares his thoughts on the incoming Biden administration and details how the NAW will support a pro-business agenda in a divided political environment.

Although our elected representatives may be divided, we’re thankful that our industry and membership are standing together. The programs and events FEDA has outlined in this issue will connect us all over the coming months, culminating in the return of the in-person FEDA Annual Conference next September. After a year of being apart, I am very much looking forward to seeing everyone at the  Grand Hyatt Nashville. Here’s to 2021.