January 2013: What Does the Future Hold?
At HarvestMark, we thought we’d start the New Year by looking at what the future may hold for the produce industry. The FDA rules that will go into effect in the near future should cause alignment on processes and practices and we see the first signs of bigger trends that will come to reshape the industry over the next decade.
The Produce Industry in 2020
The produce industry has seen dramatic change in the last decade. Retailers have experienced a sea-change in the way people shop, how they choose their products as well as who and what influences their decisions. The supply chain is beginning to use data analysis to improve forecasting, pricing, and inventory management. Traceability technology is enabling fresh food suppliers and retailers to understand the drivers of the product experience for their customers and reduce waste. Social media has enabled produce suppliers to build followership for their brands for the first time. These trends are the tip of the iceberg – and harbingers of much bigger changes ahead.
Proposed FDA rules
The 600 pages of proposed rules by the FDA are just the first wave of rulemaking required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) signed in 2011. These first set of rules reflect the desire for the FDA and - by their influence - the industry to become more proactive in the prevention of potential contamination of the US food supply. The proposed rules increase the specificity of the rules and gives the FDA more power to enforce them once they go into effect.
So how will this affect the average farm? Controversially, small growers - estimated to be 80% of total farms in the US – are exempt. But this number is misleading – they produce only 2% of the food supply. Over 98% of produce grown by volume is produced by larger enterprises, and is therefore covered under new produce safety rules. We expect many large growers are already conforming or exceeding the proposed rules. Most have a formal food safety plan in place and are complying with commodity-specific safety standards. This should make the impact, financial and logistical, less burdensome for the industry.
While traceability – our domain of expertise – is not covered in this set of rulemaking (those are expected later); we have collected some of the better summaries of these new rules for you from Food Safety News, and The Los Angeles Times.
The FDA is accepting comments on the rules for four months. After that, some form of them will become law. It remains unclear whether Congress will give the FDA the funds necessary to adequately enforce the rules, but at least now the industry knows where the goalposts are.
Mobile Marketing – A Great Addition to Your 2013 Marketing Plan
Now that 9 out of 10 Americans own a cell phone and over half of those are smartphones, the ability to market to the mobile shopper has gone mainstream. QR Codes and interactive, mobile-optimized pages are delivering shopper engagement and loyalty for fresh food brands and retailers … when done right.
With years of mobile marketing experience and one of the top food Apps on the market, HarvestMark has the expertise to help you go mobile quickly, painlessly, and cost-effectively. Drop us a line to find out how HarvestMark Connect can help you use mobile marketing to grow sales and solicit feedback for as little as $500 a year.
Check out HarvestMark Connect.