Not every organization can say it has contributed to the advancement of an entire industry and stood the test of time—100 years to be exact. The Northwest Food Processors Assoc. (NWFPA) can, and as the industry prepares to celebrate the centenary milestone in January, it shows no signs of slowing down. The Northwest Food Processors Assoc. will celebrate its 100th anniversary Jan. 12, 2014, at the commencement of the association’s annual EXPO and Conference at the Oregon Convention Center.
In 1914, what was then known as the Northwest Canners Assoc. formed with just 12 members. More than 40 years later it would merge with the Northwest Frozen Foods Assoc. to form the Northwest Canners and Freezers Assoc., with a total of 61 member companies. Thirteen years later, the association changed its name to the Northwest Food Processors Assoc. to better represent its growing and diverse membership. Today, NWFPA membership boasts nearly 500 food processors and suppliers in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, making it one of the nation’s largest food processing trade associations.
The association’s centennial milestone falls during a time when the regional food processing scene is healthy and thriving. Food processing in the Northwest generates $21 billion annually, supplies 75,000 jobs, and is the third largest contributor to the region’s principle industry—manufacturing—and has held steady during sizeable periods of economic downturn.
Industry collaboration has led to its modernization throughout the entire 100-year history of the association. With the early inception of new technologies and innovations, like the belt freezer, which was introduced in Oregon in the 1920s by inventor Clarence Birdseye, or the concentrating process for fruit flavorings by Kerr in 1929, doors were opened for all Northwest food processors that helped them better leverage, add value to the commodities which are unique to the region, and gain a competitive edge on a grander scale.
The year 1930 saw the first sales of frozen food items. In 1937, tuna canning was introduced to the region. And, in 1946, the first frozen dinners were brought to market. These developments were all possible thanks to the innovative and pioneering spirit which is distinctive to Northwest entrepreneurs.
The goal of the association is to support overall growth and serve as the Northwest industry’s mouthpiece, leadership, lobbyists, and subject matter experts who can approach high-level problem solving with an internal understanding of what’s going on in the industry as a whole.