WASHINGTON — Noting important and meaningful connections between the snack foods and flour milling industries, James A. McCarthy said he intends to enhance the North American Millers’ Association’s “footprint in Washington” as the organization’s new president. On Aug. 22, NAMA announced Mr. McCarthy will become the group’s president, effective in October.

“In my years 30 years in the food industry, coalition building is the key,” Mr. McCarthy said in an interview with Milling & Baking News. “You can move mountains if you do it right. That’s what I want to emphasize — working closely with allied associations. NAMA has made significant headway, and I want to keep building on its relationships at U.S.D.A., on Capitol Hill and with fellow associations here in Washington.”

Mr. McCarthy comes to NAMA from the Snack Food Association, where he was president for 15 years. The S.F.A. is the trade association of the snack food industry representing 400 snack manufacturers and suppliers. Principally through the S.F.A., Mr. McCarthy said his relationship with NAMA dates back many years.

“I’ve always been impressed with NAMA,” he said. “I have worked closely with them over the years, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to the group to grow my career. I know Mary Waters (former NAMA president), and Betsy Faga (Ms. Waters’ predecessor at NAMA) and I go back a long way. I have attended many NAMA functions and have invited members of NAMA staff to speak at our technical conference.”
At one level, the connection between the S.F.A. and NAMA could hardly be more basic — the central ingredient in most snack foods is a milled grain product.

“The core of a successful snack product is the quality of the ingredients,” Mr. McCarthy said. “That has always been a focus of mine at S.F.A.”

Another parallel cited by Mr. McCarthy relates criticisms over the healthfulness of the snack and flour milling industries’ basic products.

“Having represented S.F.A. during some very challenging years for the reputation of the snack industry, I’m familiar with challenges facing processed food products,” he said. “I have spent years with the organization working to better communicate the value of snack foods in diet. I have spoken with national news and other media communicating the value processed foods bring to diet, fighting both hunger and obesity.”

Meeting with key stakeholders will be atop Mr. McCarthy’s agenda when he first joins NAMA.

“The objective is to meet with staff about their interests and concerns, areas where the organization can be improved,” he said. “I will need to spend time with members. I will need to spend a good deal of my first 90 days doing that. I will be working with the organization preparing for our annual meeting in late October and the annual meeting next year to be sure they are well planned and well executed.

(The full version of this interview will be published in the next issue of Milling & Baking News)