By Rick Stein, Vice President Fresh Foods, FMI
Just because it felt like 40 days of blizzard shopping during the pandemic stock-up this spring doesn’t mean that blizzards won’t send shoppers scrambling again to empty store shelves. And don’t forget hurricane season is here, along with back-to-school season and autumn rife with concerns about ongoing spread of COVID-19. In short, the food industry needs to prepare for any eventuality.
The new Food Industry Exchange, an electronic, subscription-based sustainable marketplace developed for FMI by The Seam is a valuable tool in shoring-up supply chains in anticipation of disruption. The Food Industry Exchange launched during the early weeks of the pandemic, when demand at retail was swelling and foodservice vendors were faced with high levels of supplies. Since then, the platform has addressed the urgent needs of retailers, wholesalers, suppliers and, ultimately, consumers.
As our partner, Mark Pryor of The Seam says, “Supply chains are all about relationships, and technology allows us to make things much better and more efficient. When you look across categories, it's a great opportunity for suppliers to expand distribution and their customer base.” Mark knows a thing or two about the relationships in this industry: The Seam has a two-decade history of providing software solutions and cloud-based platforms for those in the food and agriculture industry.
Providing a real-time virtual industry exchange for product offers and discovery is important during – and beyond – times of crisis. This intuitive platform is an effective way of delivering products in the short term and starting new collaborations for the long term. Communication is at the heart of the Food Industry Exchange, which enables suppliers to send messages directly to buyers and buyers to receive messages by email or text.
Even with a few days’ notice of an advancing hurricane or amid early indications of a local surge in COVID-19 cases, users of the Food Industry Exchange can search specific products and services expected to be in high demand. Geolocation tools are also built into the system to sell and find products that are scarce in one part of the country but ample in another.
Blizzards will happen. Illnesses will emerge. Demands will change. The combination of trust and technology will strengthen the supply chain and those who are part of it.