Food Safety for Retailers! How the right e-procurement tools can help.

June 25th, 2008

On the front page of USA TODAY

On the front page of USA TODAY, under the USA TODAY Snapshots® section titled Food Safety Fears. The question posed was. Compared with five years ago, are you more concerned about the food you eat. Of one thousand one hundred ten (1,110) consumers surveyed by Deloitte on April 21st of this year, 76% answered yes and only 24% answered no.

Obviously this does not give those purchasing consumables for their customer base a lot of faith in their ability to procure safe products, suppliers to deliver safe products, or farms and manufacturers to produce safe products. I know almost two years later, I continue to look at the manufacturer’s information when I buy food for my dog.

So what can be done to improve the situation? To begin with, picking the correct sourcing partner for you re-procurement needs is essential. Understanding their commitment to food safety is a good first step. Asking questions like; how do you insure that the suppliers you provide me with for inclusion in e-procurement events will deliver safe products? The answer is not as simple as just saying we or they support GFSI, SQF or other safe food initiatives. The answer should be that as a vendor they have an enormous supplier database to choose from that is easily searchable by the retailer. Additionally, all suppliers, brokers, manufacturers and others should be held accountable to a variety of safe food standards. This is only the first step in supplier selection, but an important one. The next step should be ranking suppliers based on the safety standards they adhere to versus what the industry considers to be best practice implementation. Additionally an e-procurement partner should be able to provide easy access to industry safety updates and alerts on a daily basis and consistent growth to the database, based on new information as it becomes available such as suppliers that have failed inspections or had other types of violations.

The final step should be; Show me! If they can not, you might consider what the 76% of your customers that are concerned about food safety would think if asked to rate the importance of this data in sourcing food they consume.

I look forward to your comments.

Ron

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