2020 is almost over! I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that this challenge of a year is nearly complete. It’s hard to believe that at this time last year I wrote about how much I looked forward to the new year, knowing exactly how this year turned out. 2020, or the year of COVID, has not been what anyone expected. Dealing with a global pandemic that had major impacts throughout the entire foodservice packaging supply chain, and also here at FPI, changed the way we conduct business and shifted our priorities.
This year may not have gone according to plan, but being optimistic, let’s look back at some of the highlights.
We started off the year strong and blissfully normal, traveling to industry events, making presentations on foodservice packaging and working on the usual assortment of FPI projects and reports. By March, things were rapidly starting to change. Before we knew it, we were in a full-blown pandemic, complete with locations around the country in lockdown and many businesses closing their doors — for some, temporarily and others permanently.
We did what was necessary and adapted. In April, we published a COVID FAQ document that answered questions pertaining to the foodservice packaging industry. With our State of the Industry survey results rendered moot, we pivoted and surveyed our membership to find out how COVID impacted them. That report was issued in May, providing our members with a snapshot of how the pandemic was affecting the industry. In fact, that data proved so invaluable to FPI as we have navigated the past months, we are in the process of conducting a follow up COVID impact survey right now!
Unfortunately, we had to cancel our Spring Conference, one of our favorite events. We were disappointed and missed seeing everyone but, COVID had different plans.
We were able to connect with some of our members when we hosted a webinar version of our semi-annual member meeting. Typically held at the close of our conferences, we webinar-ed it up to get the information out to FPI’s membership. And, when we had to cancel our in-person Fall Conference, we went virtual! We hosted our first (and hopefully last) virtual conference featuring informative and engaging presentations and don’t forget, the popular yacht rock playlist heard during intermissions. It wasn’t quite networking in Naples or a second line stroll down Bourbon Street, but the opportunity to see and hear many member faces and voices was a welcome piece of our “old conference life”.
Not surprisingly, FPI’s recovery work felt some impacts this year too. Fortunately, we have continued the hard work of advancing the recovery of foodservice packaging, awarding grants to increase foam polystyrene recycling and welcoming new community partners who have added various foodservice packaging items to their recycling programs.
As we wrap up 2020, the FPI team is looking ahead to 2021 and closing the door on a strange, but still productive year. We are excited for the projects and plans we have for 2021 and remain hopeful next year at this time, we’ll be looking back over a return to some sense of normalcy. We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy, safe and semi-normal new year!