Supply Scan

News and Trends from Across the Food Supply Chain

Consumer Food Safety Fears Continue To Grow

Food safety fears have moved to the front of the checkout line as well over half of Americans (57 percent) say they have actually stopped eating a particular food, temporarily or permanently, as a result of a recent recall, according to a new survey by Deloitte Consulting LLP, New York.

These findings underscore how urgent it is for food manufacturers to do all they can to address the problem of food recalls head-on," says Pat Conroy, Deloitte's vice chairman and U.S. consumer products practice leader. 

"The results of the survey indicate that over half of today's consumers may drop your product if they believe you are not doing what it takes to protect them and their families. Food manufacturers may consider taking a total approach to ensure the safety of their brands, all the way from the farm, to the supply chain, the store shelves and even the consumer's pantry."

Among the findings:
• Over half of Americans (56 percent) say they think imported foods are "not at all" or only "somewhat" safe;
• In contrast, 80 percent of Americans say they believe that domestically produced foods are safe;
• Fully one-third (33 percent) say they think fresh fish is "not at all" or "somewhat" safe;
• Three-fourths of Americans (73 percent) believe the number of food-related recalls has increased in the past year;
• An even higher percentage (76 percent) is more concerned about the foods they eat than they were five years ago;
• Concerns are especially high around recalls of meat products, with 78 percent of consumers most concerned by beef recalls (78 percent) followed by chicken recalls (67 percent);
• Nearly nine out of 10 Americans (89 percent) would like to see food stores sell more fruits and vegetables that come from local farms, and well over two-thirds (69 percent) said they would pay slightly more for such produce.

"In today's environment, consumers are seeking fresher ingredients, giving locally grown food providers an important advantage they haven't really had in the past," says Conroy. "If food safety concerns continue to grow, consumers may be increasingly likely to shop outside the grocery store for fresh meats, produce and dairy products."

External Integration Still Lacking Among Businesses

External integration among companies and their suppliers is still lacking, according to a recent survey conducted by GXS, Gaithersburg, MD.

Ninety-five percent of the survey's respondents reported they trade electronically with less than half of their customer base. In addition, 61 percent indicated that they trade electronically with less than 10 percent of their suppliers. The findings demonstrate an opportunity for further growth and deployment of external B2B integration initiatives.

GXS recently announced its SAP Certified Integration status for GXS Trading Grid, the goal of which is to ease the integration of customers' external business partner transactions with their internal enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. More than half of the 60 respondents reported that they are planning to upgrade or consolidate their SAP solution-based systems, demonstrating the greater emphasis placed on internal integration projects, despite the additional cost savings, customer satisfaction and supply chain efficiency benefits to be gained through electronic B2B integration.

Key findings from the survey include:
• 73 percent of respondents trade electronically with less than 30 percent of their supplier base;
• 72 percent trade electronically with less than 30 percent of their customer base;
• 55 percent trade electronically with less than 10 percent of their customer base; and
• 37 percent identified 'improving B2B integration capabilities' as a top priority for their supply chain.

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Rising Food Costs Drive Retailer Competition

With food costs on the rise, shoppers are feeling the pinch and looking for ways to stretch their grocery budgets. A new study shows that regional grocery chains are increasingly losing their edge to Wal-Mart, as shoppers look to fill their carts with more food bargains.

The May study, conducted by BIGresearch, Columbus, OH, reports that Wal-Mart maintains its No. 1 spot among all adults nationwide, with 16 percent saying that Wal-Mart is the store they shop most frequently. But regional chains are slipping.

For example, in the Northeast, 9.5 percent of shoppers say they shop most often at Shop-Rite, a marginal increase and Stop 'n' Shop stayed flat, while Wal-Mart showed considerable growth in that region. And on the West Coast, Safeway continues to be the most shopped-at store and its growth is level; Wal-Mart, in the No. 2 slot in that region, is gaining ground.

In the South, Wal-Mart continues to be the powerhouse, where 25 percent of adults name it as their preferred grocery store and in the Midwest, it's also tops, favored by 14.9 percent of shoppers.

"Across the country people are cutting costs and Wal-Mart's competitive pricing model is attractive to shoppers," the report says, noting that shoppers seem to be consolidating shopping trips, which is boosting Wal-Mart's share of prescription drug sales, as well.

GMA Handbook Delivers Supplier Management Tools

T he Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has released its Food Supply Chain Handbook, a comprehensive guide designed to aid food and beverage makers in selecting safe and reliable ingredient, packaging and service suppliers throughout the supply chain.

"The food supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Knowing that your suppliers have strong food safety checks in place is critical, but if that firm cannot attest to their suppliers' safeguards, confidence in the entire chain is weakened," says Dr. Robert Brackett, GMA senior vice president and chief science and regulatory affairs officer.

"The Food Supply Chain Handbook will help companies better manage their suppliers down through the supply chain and assure the delivery of safe food at a high value to consumers."

The Food Supply Chain Handbook follows a typical procurement process by focusing on the critical aspects of selecting a preferred supplier, ranging from supplier audits to employee training to ingredient tracing.

It was developed by GMA with significant input from manufacturers, regulatory experts and scholars.

"Prevention is the key to ensuring a safe, quality food supply," continues Brackett. "This new handbook empowers food and beverage manufacturers with valuable supplier management tools designed to do just that—prevent the production and shipment of adulterated products."

The handbook is available free of charge at in both English and Spanish.