My subtitle for this article could have been “Where do we go from here?”. I was looking forward to the opportunity to host the 2020 IAMCA AGM here in Canada’s smallest province this July, but the pandemic has grounded travel and blocked our opportunity to gather. Announcing the cancelation of the 2020 AGM was very disappointing, but it was obviously necessary. It will be months before we can even start to think about holding large gatherings here, as our provincial state of emergency continues.

Given the current circumstances, it will be up to the IAMCA membership to decide if the 2021 meeting will be held in PEI or will move on to our next planned location in New York. If the meeting is held in PEI, we will continue with our plan to provide a venue and program that will support IAMCA’s operations and facilitate the exchange of information between our industry partners that we all value, while giving all of you the opportunity to explore a place many of you have never been before.

The IAMCA internet site will soon be going live, and it is our intention to make it a focal point for the organization’s future communications. The information that will be delivered through the site will assist in our efforts to keep abreast of what is happening in our organization and our plans for meeting in 2021.

The COVID 19 pandemic has certainly put a damper on 2020. I read a Facebook post this morning lamenting 2020 as a terrible year. I recognize that many people feel that way and I truly sympathize with everyone who has suffered losses as a result of this event. We have been forced to compromise some of our personal freedoms to protect our society, but in my mind that is a small price to pay to mitigate the effect of this disease. Understanding that cancelling our meeting this year was needed to protect our families, friends and communities eases the disappointment of cancelling this event.

From a dairy industry point of view, COVID 19 has certainly had a large negative impact on the Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional (HRI) market segment, but it also appears to have an offsetting positive influence on retail demand. Here in Canada, markets have been volatile with spikes in demand in some categories, alternating with periods of reduced sales. Studies done before the pandemic indicated that more than 30% of meals in Canada were being taken out of home. With so many families now in self-isolation, the related food buying trends have shifted. It will be months before we have a full picture of our new market reality.

I hope that all IAMCA members, our families and communities will weather this pandemic storm without loss. I also recognize that this is improbable as COVID 19 continues to spread and touches more people every day. I look forward to 2021 and beyond, knowing that our world will recover, though perhaps with new norms for social interaction and new standards for activities like annual meetings. It is my hope that we will all meet again in person soon to enjoy each other’s company as we move our organization forward. Be well!

–Doug Thompson, President