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With foodborne diseases taking center stage in the news and the Food Safety Modernization Act now in full swing, grocers, restaurants and food service establishments have to be more proactive in ensuring food safety than ever before. Simply stated, the highest level of food integrity is a requirement in today’s environment. In order to keep customer loyalty and trust, grocers, retailers and their supply chain partners will have to provide their customers with clearer insight into how their products are manufactured, sourced, and brought to market moving forward.
The Center for Food Integrity’s 2015 Consumer Trust Research report indicates food manufacturers are expected to lead this charge. In a marketplace where consumers are demanding transparency not only from grocery stores and restaurants, but also the food companies manufacturing their products, the best way to retain customer loyalty and trust is to build a transparent supply chain. To gain this type of visibility into the supply base, there are a few best practices to keep in mind.
Getting back to the basics: ensuring transparency with strong supplier relationships
Developing strong, collaborative partnerships with the supply base helps companies implement transparent sourcing practices. Suppliers are more likely to comply with a buyer’s transparency requirements when there is openness, trust, and a commitment from both parties. Suppliers should be inclined to work with customers to help them meet their goals.
Requiring clear insight into the supply base is also critical. Knowing where suppliers’ – including those in the second and third tier -- manufacturing plants are located, what their production processes look like, and which safety and compliance policies they have in place will help buyers properly assess risk and transparency initiatives from the start of the relationship and avoid problems. Transparency expectations and guidelines should also be clearly stated in the contract to avoid miscommunication and misconceptions around what constitutes transparent and ethical sourcing.