Are You Being Fresh?
Sometimes that’s not a bad thing at all. For instance, when it comes to managing the supply chain for perishable foods.
But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of The Kroger Co., addressing the virtual FMI FreshForward conference last week: “The supply chain has never been more important.” His company has focused on maintaining efficient supply chain operations during the pandemic, McMullen said, “so that our communities have access to fresh, affordable food and essentials.”
That access is more important than ever at a time when more people are preparing their meals at home. For companies such as Kroger, that boom in demand impacts both supply chains and the bottom line. Indeed, Kroger recently announced its sales were $30.5 billion in Q2 2020, compared to $28.2 billion for the same period last year. Its digital sales grew 127% in Q2.
That’s a lot of food that needs to be kept fresh. “Enhancing the fresh supply chain has long been an industry goal, but in the wake of COVID-19 it has become an absolute imperative,” blogged Rick Stein, vice president of fresh for food industry association FMI. “Improved data, analytics and visibility are essential to better connect the industry and make us more prepared for whatever lies ahead.”
Other FMI FreshForward participants included Robinson Fresh President Michael Castagnetto, who said his company has worked to identify stress points in its supply chain. One of those stressors was the massive shift in volume this year from foodservice to retail, which has underscored the need for an agile supply chain. “We as a fresh industry need to be ready to manage inventory from just in time to just in case,” Castagnetto said.
Stein blogged that “FreshForward’s supply chain discussions made clear that we need to connect the dots, gain visibility, invest in people and identify innovative strategies and partnerships to increase efficiency. Technology will play an important role in enhancing operations in the fresh supply chain.”
The next FMI FreshForward event, developed in collaboration with Deloitte, is scheduled for summer 2021.