By: Adam Friedlander, Specialist, Food Safety and Technical Services, Food Marketing Institute
Food retailers play a key role in protecting public health. In addition to complying with federal, state and local regulations, retailers must also develop strategic partnerships with all supply chain partners and store-level employees to ensure that food being sold to consumers will be free from biological, chemical or physical adulterants. As consumer demand to purchase groceries through e-commerce platforms increases, retailers and wholesalers must continue developing collaborative omnichannel models, with e-commerce experts, to improve operational efficiency, meet consumer demands and guarantee food safety.
I recently spoke on a panel with Kroger and United Supermarkets looking at regulatory challenges regarding ecommerce in grocery. My greatest takeaway from this panel is that retailers are committed to keeping food safe, regardless if products are sold through an e-commerce platform or brick-and-mortar location.
Since online grocery delivery is a continuation of normal business operations, retailers must continue focusing on how to reduce the chances of spoilage and contamination once store employees or independent contractors begin shopping. This can be achieved through shopping and delivery protocols that keep food at safe storage temperatures, while preventing the likelihood of cross-contamination, food spoilage, allergen mislabeling and allergen cross-contact.
To prepare our retail members for online grocery delivery, FMI and the Nielson Company released “The Digitally Engaged Food Shopper,” a report that predicts online grocery delivery sales will reach $100 billion by 2025. This means that as many as 70 percent of U.S. consumers will regularly purchase consumer packaged goods online in the next 5-7 years, resulting in market saturation. Therefore, retailers recognize the social and economic implications of prioritizing food safety when developing comprehensive e-commerce platforms.
Ultimately, the main goal for the grocery industry is to retain customers. By prioritizing food safety when developing e-commerce platforms, food retailers can continue their commitment to protecting public health. As online grocery delivery continues to mature, it is crucial to develop strategic partnerships with e-commerce expert organizations that ensure food safety. By sharing best practices and raising food safety awareness with all industry partners, grocers can create efficient, user-friendly and profitable e-commerce platforms that work toward keeping our food supply safer.
For more information on how to properly train in-store employees or independent contractors on best food safety practices, visit fmi.org/SafeMark, or contact FMI at firstname.lastname@example.org.