Marketing Food Safety and Food Security

It’s not sexy to tout your food safety program. But is it smart? Absolutely.

Many people inside our industry have grown tired of hearing about food safety. But the fact is it’s here to stay, along with its cousin, food security. So why not make it one of your most important selling points when making a presentation to a client or a potential client?

Start by imagining you are bringing a potential client to your facility to finalize a deal. Drive in and take note of things. Did a guard stop you out front? Your food security plan should have someone posted to keep unwanted people out. Is anyone at your front desk when you come into your office area or can you just wander in? Security includes your employees. Do your visitors – and employees – need to wear identification badges? Your checklist should go on and on.

My personal experiences include being stopped outside Ready Pac’s facility in Irwindale, Calif., years before food safety and security became important. Back in the 1990’s, this was not an issue, but it was at Ready Pac. I was not even allowed to park inside the fenced-in area – in a driving rainstorm – and had to walk a pretty far way, as there were other visitors ahead of me that day.
Dennis Gertmenian, the founder and chairman of the company, explained it to me. He said they were eliminating risk by having a guard outside the parking area check my identification and call into the office to be certain I did have an appointment with the person I said I was seeing. Dennis was always ahead of the curve.

On the other hand, there are just too many facilities where I have been able to not only park right next to the facility, but I could walk in and wander around without anyone as much as asking where I was going. This still goes on!

But back to your observations. Once inside, can a visitor just walk through the offices or into your production area? Let’s hope not!

When you have a visitor in your facility, they will observe small things that you just won’t see on a day-to-day basis. The best way to avoid surprises is to be prepared every day by having good procedures. Start before the production area, where everyone should be washing their hands and donning hairnets and beard nets. Then walk through the footbaths and into the production area. Your facility should be as clean as possible at all times so there are no surprises. This means the floors, equipment, fluorescent lights and ceiling tiles.

What does all this have to do with marketing? It is one thing to say you have a food safety program in place. When your customer – or potential customer – actually sees your facility, he will know whether or not you do what you say you do. Marketing includes taking visitors on tours and pointing out your food safety and security procedures by actually doing them.

Use your Web Site

Food safety is what consumers are waiting to hear more about. They assume the food they buy is safe. In nearly every case, it is. But why not take the extra steps necessary to ensure the public that you are doing everything possible to provide safe produce? Your Web site should have an entire section devoted to food safety and security. Put photos on your site that tells your story. Explain – in layman’s terms – what you are doing. Educate. If you don’t believe me, just check out the Ready Pac website (www.readypac.com). Right on its home page it says “Food Safety Comes First,” then below that it asks you to, “Click here for the latest update on our Food Safety Program.”

Talk to your customers, and this includes industry customers and the eventual end-users, about what you are doing to provide the best in food safety so they have a greater level of confidence buying your products. Your Web site can talk to consumers and your clients.

For your clients, you may even want to provide them with a password-protected page that will show them your third-party audit results and any other information you deem necessary to sell them on your food safety plan.

Newsletters and Advertising

As a regular reader of this column, you know EGA believes in newsletters. If your company is not sending one out at least on a quarterly basis, either electronically or the old-fashioned printed way, you are missing a great opportunity to keep your customers up-to-date with your food safety program. The same goes for your advertising program. If you are proud of your scores received from your independent third party audit, why not tout them? If Primus Labs is your certifier, you can even put its logo in your ad.

Marketing food safety and security is not sexy. But it is becoming more and more viable, and dare I say, necessary. Your customers – and potential customers – have enough reasons to drop you and your products for whatever reason. Don’t let food safety and security be one of them. Take the lead and tout your plans.


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