Wanting to address industry concerns about its upcoming April convention and exhibition, theAmerican Meat Instituteissued a press statement today from AMI President J. Patrick Boyle.

Following is AMI's letter:

"With AMI's 2011 Spring Expo, April 13-16 at McCormick Place, just eight weeks away, we have been working hard to release information about our show to potential and confirmed exhibitors and attendees and have been striving to do so in a positive, factual way. 

 However, there are members of our meat and poultry community who are not pleased with our shift to the Spring and to an annual trade show.  I know that these kinds of changes can be unsettling to some, but I want to be sure that you have the facts at your disposal to help you understand why we made the change in our timing and frequency and so that you understand the value of the upcoming show.

 For more than three decades, AMI's show in Chicago has been the premier domestic trade show where the industry comes together for exhibits, education, information and networking.  Years ago, the show was annual.  In the 1990s, it shifted to a biennial format.  But more recently, the trade show landscape has changed.  Many shows have returned to annual formats and we did, too, because we needed to stay competitive. 

This was not an overnight decision.  We sought feedback, and polled exhibitors and attendees about frequency, location and timing before announcing a shift to spring 2011 in Chicago.  Meanwhile, AMI did everything possible to accommodate our exhibitor base and ease the transition.  We have established flexible exhibit rates for companies that do not want to participate annually, we have reduced travel expenses by over 25 percent by choosing April and we have solidified a new co-location for 2012 with the Food Marketing Institute and United Fresh Produce Association, expanding our audience to 25,000.

Some members of our supplier community have responded by supporting a competing show that is owned and managed by the supplier community.  A few have drastically reduced their space at the AMI show or are boycotting the show altogether. Certainly, that's a business decision that they can choose to make, but it seems counterproductive to me. 

Not only does it hurt AMI's show, it hurts the industry.  An investment in the AMI Expo, whether as a registered attendee or an exhibitor, benefits the Institute's ability to lobby Congress, respond to regulations like the GIPSA proposed rule and to act as your spokesperson in Washington.  It also funds the foundation's research program to find new solutions for our food safety problems and to develop educational programs and best practices that position the industry for success.

Ultimately, the choice is yours.  AMI's leadership is choosing to support the AMI show because it is a great event with the education, information and networking opportunities that companies large and small are looking for.  AMI Expo's success also translates into our industry's success. Show profits are reinvested into meaningful programs that benefit both your business and the industry as a whole.  AMI's board of directors will be in Chicago in April at the AMI Expo along with more than 300 terrific exhibitors, a cast of outstanding speakers, the members of several AMI committees who will be meeting there and  thousands of energized attendees. 

Details about our show are available at www.AMIExpo.com.  I hope that this information has helped you separate the facts about our show from the fiction that you may be hearing.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at jpboyle@meatami.com or 202/587-4262.  I hope to see you in Chicago!"