business news in context, analysis with attitude

In the new edition of Facts, Figures & The Future, Phil Lempert writes that despite all the conversation in the food industry about self-regulating so that food safety could be better assured, virtually nothing has been done. “We talked too long,” Lempert writes, “and now it’s too late.

“Last week, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced legislation for the National Food Tracking System to create a mandatory tracking system for food manufacturing and retail. The Ohio Democratic Senator said that, ‘We must ensure the federal government has the ability and the authority to protect the public, especially given the global nature of our food supply.’ And goes on to say he also wants both the FDA and the Agriculture Department to have power to declare mandatory food recalls, when necessary (a power they currently do not have).

“Many have feared that if the Federal Government got involved in such a system, that it would tie up the industry in red tape, additional costs, and probably not meet the objectives for what is truly needed. But as trade groups vied for political power ...and new revenue streams, the momentum was lost and the opportunity shifted into the hands of the Legislature. The message to our shoppers is that food companies can't solve the problem, and the government has to step up.

“Shame on us.”

In addition, Anne-Marie Roerink, director of research at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), notes that as the nation’s economic situation worsens, “shopper interest in private label is growing along with the quality and variety of offerings. No less than 60 percent of shoppers say they purchase more store-brand or private label products as opposed to national brands to save money. Similarly, 66 percent of retailers have noted an increase in their private label sales over the past six months, especially in grocery, paper good and canned vegetables. Others say private label growth is exceeding national brand growth in almost every category. Private label will grow increasingly important as a way to save money for shoppers and an avenue for retailers to operate under slightly better margins. Several retailers noted they are planning on expanding their private label offerings and being more aggressive in promoting these products.

And there’s much more…

To get your copy of F3, go to:

F3 is a joint production of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), ACNielsen, and Phil Lempert.

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