Today’s customer is more informed than ever. Whether shopping for groceries, serving as a retail store manager, or placing an order at a restaurant, people want to know about and trust the companies they buy from and learn about the ingredients, production, and quality of the food they consume.
This consumer concern, which is not limited to one particular group or geography, can make or break the financial success, public image, and popularity of a business or food product overnight. Companies now have an obligation to inform consumers about how their food products are made.
With this obligation for transparency comes the need to peel back the curtain on food safety. While consumers’ desire for knowledge about the makeup of their meals grows, so does their need to be reassured about food safety measures that are implemented across the entire supply chain—from the retailer to the manufacturer and processor—and all the way back to the farm itself.
Tracing food back to the farm or factory source will typically cross county or state lines–even national borders and oceans. According to FDA figures, the U.S. imported $49 billion worth of food in 2011 from nations such as China, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and Brazil.
The amount of food imported into the U.S. continues to grow as Americans consume more products not locally available or not grown in abundance to meet demand. Additionally, cheaper labor costs overseas often mean less expensive fish, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and red meat from other countries than the same food grown on local farms.
Because of the ever-growing sourcing of food from overseas in an increasingly complex world, certification and inspection across global markets is essential to ensure that this international sourcing—and the entire supply chain for that matter—is protected and operationally efficient on all fronts.