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It’s not often you get to be a fly on the wall of a conversation between a food retailer and supplier, but that is what attendees experienced during a recent Groceryshop 2019 presentation hosted by FMI with presentations from Erin Dress, Walmart omnichannel team lead, Unilever, and Austin Leonard, industry manager, CPG food and beverages, Walmart Media Group.
The “founding father” of the concept of inherent safety, Dr. Trevor Kletz, a chemical engineer and process safety expert, said it best, “There's an old saying that if you think safety is expensive, try an accident. Accidents cost a lot of money. And, not only in damage to plant and in claims for injury, but also in the loss of the company's reputation.”
Plant-based food products are no longer just a trend – they are here to stay in an industry that is growing incrementally each day. FMI’s Power of Meat 2019 report finds that plant-based meat alternatives sales increased 19.2% last year and account for $878 million in annual sales. Plant-based meat alternatives are just one example within an innovative and diverse pool of new products – dairy alternatives, frozen food products, snack foods, etc., also are expanding aggressively.
Without a doubt, our industry is experiencing change and it’s coming at us faster than ever before, but we still have fundamental principles we maintain – hospitable things food retailers are noted for. These identifying factors are service principles we retain to be true to our core, but in the new world of online interactions, we are learning to apply them in new ways and learn what hospitality means to a new generation of food shoppers.
Many in the industry can’t hear it yet, but artificial intelligence voice assistances (AI-voice) – on a home-based smart speaker, smartphone or a car dashboard – are on their way to the grocery industry. As they arrive, it will not only accelerate the move to online grocery but solidify consumer-to-brand relationships for retailers that connect with shoppers via voice.
Long dwell times can strain carrier relationships, increase costs and hurt production. It’s a problem both food retailers and supplier can agree needs to be addressed. That’s why the Trading Partner Alliance (TPA), including both FMI and GMA, conducted a pilot project to examine the issues the impact dwell time. Reducing System Dwell Time Through Collaboration outlines the process of this pilot project, what we discovered and solutions.
According to The Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2019 report, 93% of grocers who responded to the survey use community support and ties as a service differentiation strategy and 73% see it as successful—the highest of any strategy. These stats make me think that while, yes, community support might be a strategy for a grocery store to set themselves apart, perhaps since so many are using this strategy and seeing success, community support is really just a part of the core nature of grocers.
Founding members of FWRA signed an important memorandum of understandingwith three key government agencies – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agreement means the industry and federal government will be working hand in hand to implement food waste reduction efforts across the supply chain. Here’s a breakdown of what’s including in this MOU.

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