SN Year in Review 2007: NEW CHALLENGES

In our Strategic Planner issue on Dec. 17, Fresh Market highlighted several big trends affecting retailers right in their stores: impending deadlines, like country of origin labeling in the produce and meat departments, and great opportunities for building on past success in prepared foods and locally grown products. This week, with our annual Year in Review, we take a look at just some of the issues

In our Strategic Planner issue on Dec. 17, Fresh Market highlighted several big trends affecting retailers right in their stores: impending deadlines, like country of origin labeling in the produce and meat departments, and great opportunities for building on past success in prepared foods and locally grown products.

This week, with our annual Year in Review, we take a look at just some of the issues that have shaped fresh food retailing from outside the supermarket doors.

There's plenty of bad news. Renewable fuel mandates from the federal government have caused a significant spike in the price of corn, raising the price of animal feed and placing upward pressure on the input costs of meat, poultry, dairy and egg producers.

Immigration reform efforts have hit a wall in Washington, despite what proponents describe as a growing labor crisis. States like Arizona have begun taking matters into their own hands, adopting measures that will harshly punish produce growers and meat processors that hire illegal immigrants.

And, after several years of decline, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has noted a rise in the number of E. coli recalls for beef products. One massive, 21.7-million-pound recall in September bankrupted the Topps Meat Co. and has led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin rethinking its testing and oversight procedures.

On a more positive note, the produce industry made significant advances in product safety this year, with growers developing and adopting California's Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. The USDA is now considering a national program based on the industry's model.