Consumers are demanding fresh, locally sourced ingredients. They want artisanal products and exotic flavours. They want fresh food and food prepared on the premises. This consumer demand for diverse products and ingredients creates unique challenges for retailers.
We source our products from suppliers around the world. There are multiple levels of suppliers in the food system. Each step of the chain has its own food safety considerations yet customers expect their food to be safe. And so they should. Retailers are an important ally in helping customers make safe and healthy food choices.
A lot goes on behind the scenes in this complex, multifaceted supply chain. We must consider safe storage and preparation of food, hygiene and cross-contamination prevention. We need ongoing training for staff. We must constantly keep up with changing regulations that vary from country to country.
Retailers face the challenge of managing all these aspects of food safety practices. We’re also customer-facing. We’re the front-line of defence, responsible for anything that might have happened upstream.
Food safety requires continuous improvement. We need to work together to ensure safe food for consumers everywhere.
There is strength in numbers. We see the benefit of coming together with others to help each other raise the bar on food safety because for us, food safety is a non-competitive issue.
Collaboration and knowledge sharing between experts across the supply chain is key. This is the only way to ensure the provenance and safety of the food we offer to customers. This is why I’m so passionate about the work of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).
I’m the Vice President of Food Safety and Quality Assurance at Wegmans Food Markets based in the USA. At Wegmans we’ve been very committed to the work done by GFSI for some time now and I’m currently Vice Chair of the GFSI Board of Directors. We source food products from all over the world so we truly see the benefit of a global interaction between stakeholders large and small.
We have an excellent planning committee working behind the scenes to develop our upcoming Global Food Safety Conference, taking place in Tokyo in March, 2018. I’m proud to be associated with that group. We are based on three different continents and we’re all working together to put together the most relevant programme for our industry right now. This is unique forum to address together the pressing issues affecting our industry and impacting us.
It is also the industry’s annual rendez-vous to come together and learn what others in the field are doing. It’s a place to glean new best practices and share your own experiences. A diverse group of over 1,000 stakeholders and decision-makers from over 50 countries come together annually at the conference to advance food safety on a global scale. It’s a truly global collaboration and it also promises to be a great destination for networking and doing business.
The diverse range of topics at the conference will appeal to retailers and all players in the food industry, at all levels.
We’re proud to have attracted CEOs from some of the world’s biggest food retailers. They’re taking time out of their busy schedules to join us on stage to share how they lead food safety management and foster a strong food safety culture in their operations. Learning from their experiences will be invaluable.
In addition to the retailer CEO panel we’ll be covering hot topics in technology, big data and innovation. You’ll hear about the latest advances in food science, aquaculture and seafood – which is particularly topical in the host city of Tokyo. There will be sessions tackling food safety culture, food fraud, harmonisation, primary production, capability building and the regulatory area as a whole.
We’re working hard to come up with topics that you will relate to, find interesting and on point. We encourage stakeholders from across the food industry to join us to discuss these topics. Food safety is everyone’s responsibility and we need to work together.
Collaboration of retailers, manufacturers, CPOs and other stakeholders is key. We must remember that food safety is a non-competitive issue and all these stakeholders coming together from across the globe is a huge plus. This is why Wegmans is so committed to GFSI.
We’re absolutely thrilled that the conference is coming to Japan. We’re excited to meet our colleagues from around the world, to learn from them and discuss the pressing issues in our industry.
It’s great to be part of the group driving positive change for our consumers. It’s very exciting to learn more about the Japanese food industry and culture. I’m very much looking forward to meeting everyone to drive the food safety dialogue together.
Whether you’re a large or a small retailer or supplier, a stakeholder or service provider, all are welcome in Tokyo. We want to make this the best conference we’ve had and want to encourage everyone to join us and learn from each other.
This post was written and contributed by:
Gillian Kelleher, Vice President of Food Safety and Quality Assurance,
Wegmans Food Markets, USA
Vice Chair of the GFSI Board of Directors and the Global Food Safety Conference Committee