Talk About Food Safety, Hammonds Says

Retailers who embrace increased communication on food safety will improve their chances of building more trust with consumers, said Tim Hammonds, Food Marketing Institute's president and chief executive officer, during the Speaks presentation at the FMI Show here last week. A series of high-profile food recalls has focused national attention on food safety and left suppliers and retailers

LAS VEGAS — Retailers who embrace increased communication on food safety will improve their chances of building more trust with consumers, said Tim Hammonds, Food Marketing Institute's president and chief executive officer, during the Speaks presentation at the FMI Show here last week.

A series of high-profile food recalls has focused national attention on food safety and left suppliers and retailers debating next steps.

On the one hand, there is good news on this subject. Consumer confidence in food safety actually rose recently, probably because of a decline in the actual number of recalls, according Hammonds, who cited results from FMI's Trends report. The data also showed consumers now place more confidence in supermarkets than in government on the issue of food quality and safety.

“For perhaps the first time, there is more trust of grocers than of the [Food and Drug Administration] and [U.S. Department of Agriculture], due to poor handling of recalls,” Hammonds said.

Nevertheless, he added that confidence in the food supply “is still very fragile” and consumers are demanding retailer transparency.

“People want retailers to communicate, to tell them what is being done,” he said. “That's a ‘wow’ opportunity.”

Hammonds pointed to FMI's soon-to-be-launched recall portal as an important new industry tool. Called the Product Recall Collaboration Zone, the tool will help suppliers communicate recall information to retailers and wholesalers, who need to get products off the shelves.

FMI is also urging suppliers to change the timing of recall announcements, Hammonds said.

“Forty percent of FDA Class 1 recalls are issued after 5 p.m. on Friday night or on weekends,” Hammonds said.

Who Do You Trust?

(CONFIDENCE IN FOOD QUALITY AND SAFETY)

somewhat agree totally agree
I trust the FDA 33% 76%
I trust the USDA 34% 79%
I trust my grocery stor 56% 92%
SOURCE: FMI TRENDS