Keeping Member Benefits Top of Mind

Dear SFA Members,
Member benefits are always top of mind with trade association executives. We always ask ourselves if members are getting enough benefit to justify the dues they pay. Of course, the objective is to make the benefits overwhelmingly obvious and dues appear miniscule compared to those benefits. When you manage an international association, as I do, you also must be concerned about the benefits to your international members. What do they get for their dues?
According to surveys we have taken in the past, most members say that the actions that SFA takes on behalf of our industry with government and the news media on food safety, nutrition, the environment, transportation, etc., are the principal reasons for their membership in SFA. Others say that the educational sessions and networking opportunities at our meetings and annual convention, SNAXPO, are also an important benefit and others cite our marketing programs, such as our annual Routing for Dollars and Halloween sales promotion contests as the benefits they find most beneficial. I constantly look for opportunities to enhance SFA membership benefits to keep pace with the times. This ensures that our members get the greatest “bang for their buck” from whichever benefit, or combination of benefits, they use.
For example, I recently visited Ohio State University’s Food Science Department and laboratory (see photo on page 62), which SFA members contributed to in the past. There are many opportunities there for hands-on snack production courses as there are at Penn State University, as well. Now, the challenge is to identify the type of instruction at these universities that provides the greatest benefit to our members. The recent renewed request for greater hands-on training to complement what we are already doing at Texas A&M is an example of finding the benefits that the members value.
SFA also is offering many new benefits to our members and reaching out to new members from different segments of the snack food business. Just last week, SFA signed a cooperative agreement with an organization in Mexico City to assist member companies and prospective members in Latin America in complying with U.S. laws and understanding the U.S. market in general. SFA also officially has signed an agreement with the Food Fleet Exchange program, now available on our Web site (, to provide
our members an online purchasing opportunity for tires, batteries, etc., to cut costs in managing their truck fleets. Additionally, SFA is co-hosting a trade show in Las Vegas in February, called the Real Deal Expo, which provides our snack manufacturers an opportunity to market to snack distributors at a reduced exhibit rate. SFA also has established closer ties to the Food Marketing Institute, the large food retail association, and will offer SFA business member executives the opportunity to attend the FMI Mid-Winter Executive conference in January at FMI member rates as a result of this cooperation.
For our international members, we now provide the SFA portion of the monthly Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine on the “Members Only” section of our Web site. Additionally, important information for international members is provided via our monthly International Snack Report. And, for the very first time, SFA has created a brochure on SNAXPO in Spanish. This brochure is being provided to our Latin American members and others who are interested.
All these new benefits are in response to requests from members over the years for additional benefits, in addition to the services and products SFA currently offers. I know that these benefits may not appeal to all members. However, I am always on the lookout for programs and services that provide greater value to the majority of SFA members. So, if you have an idea, please let me know. I want to hear from you on which benefits provide you the best “bang for your buck.” Your membership is highly valued and your dues, which allow us to provide a variety of programs and services, are greatly appreciated.
Jim McCarthy
President and CEO
Snack Food Association