Citing a shrinking number of exhibits and high location costs, the Food Marketing Institute said last month that it plans to scale back its trade show to every other year, and that 2007 will be the last year it holds the show in Chicago.

"Chicago is very expensive," Tim Hammonds, president and chief executive of Washington-based FMI toldThe Chicago Tribune. He said exhibitors have complained "for years" about the difficulty of dealing with McCormick Place work rules that make set-ups more costly. Only New York is more expensive, FMI officials said. FMI said it will alternate the show with educational seminars.

A week after FMI's announcement, and as McCormick was being prepped for the National Restaurant Association Show, it was announced that one of the labor unions that represents McCormick's workers had made some concessions in contract negotiations as part of an effort to keep more shows from exiting Chicago. The NRA show contract runs only through 2006.

FMI's departure is the latest in a steady stream that in 2005 dropped Chicago to No. 3 in the national ranking of convention sites, putting it behind Orlando. Las Vegas has held the top spot since the mid-1990s, when it dislodged Chicago from the preeminent position it had held for decades. No word as to how the Fancy Food Show and All Things Organic, which are co-joined with FMI, will be affected.