Differentiation Is The Name Of The Game

With John Block, the executive vice president of the Food Marketing Institute, and president of its Wholesale Division.


Block: Many are starting to discover that closing warehouses alone will not work forever. Fuel prices are so high right now, and fewer warehouses usually requires longer driving distances. Many are also trying new warehouse configurations, looking at more automation, creating incentive programs for employees, and looking to adopt RFID. They are also constantly concerned about backhauls and trying to find them wherever they can.

But, things will not change real quickly because they’ve been engrained into the industry for so long. The problem is that there is not a lot of margin or profit in food, and when you don’t have a lot of excesses, you can’t buy a lot of new things.

What about RFID?

We have emerging technologies that could revolutionize food distribution. Among the most promising is the Auto-ID/Electronic Product Code (EPC) initiative. It offers solutions to many of our foremost challenges, using microchips to track product movement throughout the supply chain. This technology can dramatically improve our ability to control out-of-stocks, theft and counterfeiting. It can automate inventory management, trace products through the supply chain in recalls and provide companies real-time information on customer purchases.

RFID is being tested by retailing and manufacturing partners across the United States. I encourage all food retailers, wholesalers and suppliers to learn about this technology and explore how to apply it.

The wholesaler community faces a glass full of opportunities to stimulate economic growth, business success and improve the variety and quality of choices for consumers. The best years may be yet to come.

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