(Editor’s Note: This is an online-only article attributed to the April/May 2018 issue.)
The food industry has defined expectations for today’s brands that reach beyond what was once expected by either consumers or third-party certifying organizations. Food safety must be at the forefront of each brand’s priorities, but it must also be demonstrated in more ways than might be expected.
As shoppers become more educated about the industry, the foods they are feeding themselves and their families, and the statements they are making with each purchase at the grocery store, true brand authenticity must be present. Through a strong brand story, companies can endear themselves, their products, and the team that makes their products to their consumers. Inherent and intricately woven within the fabric of this all-consuming brand story is true transparency that demonstrates superior food safety and cultivates trust between brand and shopper.
Consumers hold the power of today’s food world in their hands. With buying decisions centered on transparency being made daily, brands that align with shoppers’ values are in a position to thrive.
The following are five areas that food brands struggling with food safety and compliance within their manufacturing plants may be avoiding.
- Lackluster general manufacturing procedures are paired with relaxed staff training. As your plant is upgraded, your staff also need to be aware of each update. Detailed training and rigorous risk-based preventative measures should be taken. Consider employing outside consultants to assist in the evaluation and implementation of best critical practices. This will ensure an objective view when approaching this imperative topic.
- Plant manufacturing teams are working in silos. By using the resources at your disposal, your plant can learn and improve from its team members. In doing so, you can expand your thinking and processes to better adapt to your present challenges.
Open up a dialogue with other professionals in your field and fellow team members to put yourself in a position to better adapt to your present challenges. Well-balanced plants work to disband silos and work with cross-functional teams to shed new light on current issues.
- Machinery within the plant is performing at status quo. For the sake of greater specification control and verification, state-of-the-art machinery is an investment leading companies should consider. The experience each shopper will have when they add your product to their basket is one that they will carry with them long after they have enjoyed it. The machinery used within the plant should encourage consistency and supreme quality control, so that experience is one they want to repeat.
- Third-party certifications are taken for granted. One thing should be apparent in a plant that enlists strict food safety protocols. That is, an intricate attention to safety protocols on the part of each team member. Your cross-functional teams can play a pivotal role here by putting food safety at the core of all they do. Furthermore, third-party certifications, such as SQF, are effective ways to enhance your food safety management and product quality while instilling trust within your consumers.
- A lagging supply chain that throws a wrench in plans for innovation. The food industry is moving quicker than ever; flexibility and agility are the keys to bringing confidence to the supply. Your manufacturing plant should be enlisting greater optimization of the supply chain to ensure more consistent supply and stricter adherence to your quality standards. Planning with efficiency and addressing the needs of both your consumers’ and retail partners’ needs while controlling costs requires both robust technology and strong leadership, especially at the plant level. Innovation happens when supply chain leaders are focused on the company’s overall business goals and armed with visibility.
The gravity of brand authenticity, brand story, and food safety is the first step with which today’s industry leaders must grapple. However, it truly begins at the plant level. With superior practices in place, the crucial groundwork on which loyal consumer relationships are built is laid.