June 1, 2004
Drive Down Memory Lane
I recently visited some of our members in central Ohio and Pennsylvania. As I was driving from Cleveland to Columbus on one of the connecting routes to the Interstate highway, I was thinking about the story that Don Noss once told me. Don Noss is the son of the founder of the Snack Food Association, Harvey Noss. Don told me that as a boy, he would ride along in the car with his father to visit snack food manufacturers and sign them up to be members in the original Potato Chip Institute. Don said that his dad could spot a snack facility a mile away by looking for a plume of steam over the tree line or by following a truck load of potatoes. Harvey Noss started the association because he saw a need for the budding industry (pun intended) to have an association where industry issues and techniques could be discussed and fellowship could be created toward the common good of our industry.
Today, it is harder to drive through central Ohio or Pennsylvania and find the number of potato chip factories that existed years ago. However, there are now many different kinds of snack manufacturers that make up today’s SFA than there were 68 years ago. For example, the industry originally did not have pork rind or pretzel companies as members, but as the industry grew, it made sense to change the name of the association so that all snack manufacturers could participate. All along, the industry has need to have an institution where issues of importance to the snack industry, such as unfair regulations or proposed taxes, could be uniformly addressed and represented in the corridors of government. Also, the need for fellowship and the sharing of
ideas and techniques on snack food processing have continued to be an important reason for the association’s existence, even today.
The industry has changed over the years, as it must, to address the needs of its ever-changing membership. For instance, we now have sessions in Spanish at SNAXPO to present important topics to our Latin American members. Our international membership is growing well beyond what we had ever anticipated. Currently, there are over 250 international members of SFA. In India alone, there are 67 individual manufacturing members. I can just imagine what the growth in SFA members from China will be, as long as that country continues to allow for business enterprise to blossom.
In a recent interview I gave to The Food Network, I emphasized that this industry is strong and getting stronger by the day, regardless of the latest trends in American diets. The industry has always found a way to make what the consumer wants, often before they even know they want it. This talent for innovation and trend setting will always be the hallmark of our industry as we grow both in the U.S. and abroad. Oh, and by the way, I found some time in my recent drive down memory lane to sample some of our members products in Ohio and Pennsylvania and I am proud to report that they’re even better than when Harvey Noss traveled those roads some 70 years ago.
James A. McCarthy President & CEO Snack Food Association