Whistleblowing is bringing down more than just politicians these days. In the food processing and packaging industry, a single faulty practice has the power to bring production, reputation and profits to a grinding halt. The horse meat scandal is perhaps the most vivid example of this.
But before you imagine this is a problem that doesn’t affect the fruit industry, think again.
In recent years, there have several high profile recalls within apples, stone fruit and peanuts. These events can no longer be seen as isolated incidents. Thus food trust matters have begun to draw the attention and scrutiny of regulatory bodies around the world, as well as consumers who are more empowered than ever.
PWC recently released a report highlighting the top 10 global issues relating to food trust. In this article, we’ll outline those issues, explain how they impact the food processing industry and discuss what can be done to correct them.
#1 Food supply chains are now borderless
Today, the word ‘exotic’ has slowly faded when we talk about food. With globalisation blurring borders, food can now be traded far more freely and frequently. But with this free trade, spotting food threats has also become increasingly blurry.
What this means for the industry: Food supply chains now need to find new ways to oversee food sources and data from multiple countries to ensure no threats slip through the cracks.
#2 Supply chains are no longer fragmented resources
With safety gaining paramount importance, supply chains can no longer exist in isolated bubbles but instead, have to find ways to talk to each other.
What this means for the industry: Food companies are recognising just how vital a connected supply chain network is and are now spending millions to ensure safety, maintain traceability and streamline processing.
#3 Scandals are making consumers more vigilant
We now live in a world where high profile recalls can no longer be hidden or downplayed. With the permeation of social media and rapid news cycles, consumers are now more vigilant and have risen up to the role of guardian, asking tough questions and demanding answers from brands.
What this means for the industry: Food supply chains need to maintain full transparency at all times, build more consumer confidence with the smart application of data and address any concerns they may have about the safety of their food.
#4 Regulatory policies are tightening their grip
Governments around the world are responding to quality and safety concerns by introducing and enforcing stricter controls and inspections when it comes to food safety standards.
What this means for the industry: Companies in the fruit produce supply chain need to study, understand and deploy multi-country and regulatory systems if they hope to remain commercially viable. However, if they want to remain commercially profitable, they also need to ensure adhering to these standards does not affect their price competitiveness in the market.
#5 Purchasing power is literally changing hands
Consumption patterns are seeing a distinct shift in the global arena with wealthier, middle class individuals and families emerging as the new consumer base. This shift, in turn has led to increased demand for safer, higher quality food which is consistent from purchase to purchase.
What this means for the industry: Fruit producers have to recognise and adapt to this shift in the value chain by outlining their food trust story from compliance and full data visability across the value chain, thus ensuring constant customer satisfaction with both quality of product and trust of brand.
#6 Technology is helping companies manage risk
With continuous improvement in the areas of safety and process standards, companies are now in a better position to keep an overwatch on the safety and quality of their produce across the supply chain, integrating this information into their business for competitive advantage.
What this means for the industry: Companies need to invest in maintaining a global dashboard which collects as much safety and quality information as possible. This information needs to be regularly relayed to consumers who constantly expect improved levels of processing and traceability standards.
#7 Food demand is changing aesthetically too
Choice in food products is no longer just limited to higher quality but has extended to preferences such as organic and other ethical considerations. This has created new compliance, testing and certification standards.
What this means for the industry: The grading of fruit now has an added level of complexity to be considered, especially in developed economies, where food has to pass not just health but widely accepted personal preference standards too.
#8 Consumers are now digitally empowered
With the proliferation of social media, consumers are now equipped to uncover every last detail about the food they consume. This makes their demands more pointed and their expectations for a response more adamant.
What this means for the industry: Companies need to limit their levels of secrecy (when it comes to food security and health) since it only tends to irk consumers further. Instead they need to maintain total transparency and thus turn positive customer feedback into brand strength.
#9 Leveraging compliance into a competitive advantage
Leading food companies recognise the need to not be seen as merely chasing new compliance standards but be viewed as a brand that can set their own standards of excellence.
What this means for the industry: By choosing to take the bold step of outlining internal levels of compliance and setting company guidelines for excellence in the field, companies can not only mitigate risk but also bolster brand value.
#10 Meeting the hunger of a growing world populous
According to the report by PWC, food consumption is expected to increase 35% over the next 15 years as another billion people are added to the world’s population by 2025.
What this means for the industry: To cope with such exponential surges in population, agricultural production will need to increase by 70% to feed the world’s population in 2050. This means the food production industry will have to be exceptionally vigilant to ensure scarcity doesn’t lead to adulteration or mislabeling. This in turn, will spawn ‘food defence’ into it’s own industry to safeguard both economic interests of the country and health interests of the public.
Taking these factors into account, Compac has established an internal food safety team which is focused on understanding market regulations, standards and managing compliance of products from a hygiene, traceability and data perspective. This initiative is currently known as the Compac Hygiene Upgrade Product Lines. Our aim to ensure competitive advantage for Compac packhouses via the protection and enhancement of their brands and the safety, quality and trust of their products in the marketplace.