Several state-level groups of food processing firms formed a trade organization in the early twentieth century, eventually expanding to add Maryland and Virginia firms in the middle of the century. Known as the Mid-Atlantic Food Processors Association (MAFPA) since 1964, changes in the food industry led to the group's dissolution in 2002.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, food preservation had become one of the major industries of the Mid-Atlantic region. In order to better address common issues such as government regulations, consumer education, and dissemination of information regarding new technologies, several state trade associations merged to create a regional association. The Tri-State Packers Association was founded on February 3, 1904 by the members of the New Jersey Canned Goods Association and the Peninsula Canned Goods Packers Association. While fifty-five firms comprised the original membership, the organization expanded to include 111 firms within a year. The Tri-State Packers Association represented large national companies such as Campbell’s (based in New Jersey) as well as hundreds of small, independent food processors in the region. The Association’s affiliation with the Maryland Canners Association began with the 1919 convention held in Philadelphia. The Association was incorporated in Maryland in 1929.
The leadership of the Tri-State Packers consisted of three full-time employees: the executive secretary, the assistant secretary, and the treasurer. The presidency was a temporary position, filled by sixty-nine men over the ninety-eight years of the organization’s existence. The board of directors and a number of committees worked with the leadership to address issues relating to the food processing industry through legislative and educational activities. Virginia processors were added to the Tri-State Packers Association in 1963, necessitating a name change. In 1964, the organization became the Mid-Atlantic Food Processors Association or MAFPA.
The Association focused on governmental and regulatory issues as well as conducting agricultural research to improve crop yield and raw product. It also reviewed pending legislation at both the nation and local levels so firms could address the issues of food processing with Congress and state representatives. MAFPA sponsored seminars and classes designed to improve general knowledge in the fields of management, mechanical engineering and bookkeeping. The Lansing Warner Company of Chicago provided a group insurance plan for the Association’s member firms and their employees until the 1970s.
In the late twentieth century, competition from other agricultural and food processing regions (particularly California), a change in American eating habits, and diminishing supplies of seafood from the Chesapeake and Delaware bays caused significant financial difficulties for smaller processors. The Mid-Atlantic region’s processors found it difficult to survive in an extremely competitive marketplace and by 2000 only four members were left in MAFPA. The Association formally dissolved in 2002 after ninety-eight years of support for member processors in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Budd, Nelson H. History of the Mid-Atlantic Food Processors Association Inc.. (Box 1, Folder 7)
Kee, Ed. Saving our Harvest: The Story of the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Canning and Freezing Industry. Timonium, Md.: CTI Publications, Inc. 2006.
The records of the Mid-Atlantic Food Processors Association, 1917-2006, documents the structure and services of a regional trade organization. The collection contains 5 linear feet of material organized topically into four series, including founding documents, administrative records, meeting minutes, bulletins, financial statements, correspondence, convention programs, photographs, and other printed material relating to the organization. The material contained collection was used extensively by Ed Kee in research toward Saving Our Harvest: The Story of the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Canning and Freezing Industry (2006). Many of the items used, such as directories and minutes, are referenced in Kee’s bibliographic essay in Saving Our Harvest .
Series I. consists of printed material related to the founding of the Association, board of directors membership lists, member obituaries, and correspondence to and from MAFPA executive secretaries Frank and Nina Schales (1979-1999).
Series II. consists of the organizational newsletter, the General Bulletin (1972-2000), and meeting minutes (1928-1998).
Series III. contains the financial information of the Association and includes financial statements, receipts, tax returns, insurance policy reviews, and ledgers.
Series IV. contains material related to various MAFPA meetings such as convention programs, as well as directories.
Series V. consists of the notebooks of C. W. Mowbray, executive secretary of MAFPA 1974-1978, as well as environmental/agricultural research, pamphlets, material dealing with migrant labor, news articles, and several trade publications.