President’s Letter

Have Your Snack & Wellness, Too
Those Dog Days of Summer are finally winding down, and we on the staff of the Snack Food Association are gearing up for a very busy fall meeting season. Of course, we also are preparing for the return of Congress and the continuation of debate over the Farm Bill reauthorization, among other issues important to our members.
I had the pleasure this summer of traveling to Michigan to visit with Phil Gusmano and Mike Scena of Better Made Snack Foods in Detroit. I also attended the annual U.S. Potato Board meeting of chipping potato growers in Northern Michigan. In addition, I had the opportunity to visit Terry Brimhall and Michael Patrick at Brimhall Food Co. in Memphis, Tenn.
It always is refreshing to get outside of the “Beltway,” as we Washingtonians refer to our Nation’s Capital, to hear from real people about what’s going on in the real world.  
Despite all the rhetoric we hear in the national media about snack foods these days, it appears to me that the state of our industry is strong. While energy, labor, commodity and other in-put prices are high, our members continue to provide the kinds of products their consumers want — and that means products that taste good.
While executives at all the companies in our industry I have talked to this summer are sensitive to concerns about the health and well-being of consumers, the fact is consumers vote with their dollars and, as the June State of the Industry issue of this magazine points out, sales of savory snacks are at an all-time high.
Many SFA members are developing products that fit all lifestyles, including whole grain pretzels and tortilla chips, low- and no-fat popcorn, and baked potato chips in a variety of flavors.
The majority of our members are making products with low to zero grams of trans fats, as well, ahead of the demand to ban the use of partially hydrogenated oils in various parts of the country.  Yet, snacks are an easy target for the so-called “thought leaders” and media pundits to attack. Even politicians of both major national parties have gotten into the act.
I think the more consumers learn about diet and health and the importance of regular exercise, our industry will only benefit.
Do you remember when the food industry supported including the nutrition facts panel on food products back in 1990? I was lobbying on Capitol Hill for another industry association at the time, urging members of Congress to let us fairly state the amount of calories, fat and sodium on our labels. While it was expensive to change our labels, it allowed us to let the consumer know what was in our products so they could balance their diets accordingly.
If we can cut through the negative rhetoric on snacks and their role in the diet, I think we can once again convince the consumer that snacks do play an important role … and that you can have your snack and wellness, too.
Jim McCarthy
President & CEO