That tipping point is telling. It might have to do with consumers seeking convenience (fill the tank, grab a sub) or variety (take-out bars for salad and soup, prepared entrees, pasta, Asian, tapas) at the local supermarket.
Notice how grocers are placing the take-out “store” and the deli adjacent to produce section at the front entrance and giving it up to twice the floor space of the fruit and vegetable bins. Even the produce area itself is evolving. It’s now stocked with multiple selections of prepared items for easy grabbing like guacamole, salsa, smoothies and cut fruit.
Unfortunately, these consumer trends create food safety challenges for grocers, convenience store operators, and any entity offering institutional food programs on a contract basis. There’s a news story just about every week about a food recall, and many incidents of contaminated food you never even hear about because officials never connected the dots.
Is consumer preference pushing you beyond the limits of what you can handle? Will a food-borne outbreak surface in your deli? Will your hot pizza bar serve up a slice of something sickening?
In this digital era, the answer has to be digital, intuitive to use, and shall we say, convenient? Advances in food safety technology mean you can now deploy digital sensors and sensing devices, and digitally roll-up all the information (store-wide or system-wide) into a dashboard a multi-unit manager or franchisee can review on their phone in just about any location.
Here are some of the exposure areas you can now cover with digital food safety technology:
- Hot and Cold Bars
- Surface Storage
- Cold Holding
- Food Contact Surfaces
- Non-Food Contact Surfaces
The information gathered not only results in real-time data, so adjustments can be made quickly, but it also means operators have permanent records for compliance that take up very little storage space and have no loss of integrity.
Your menu offerings and convenience channels will only expand, as brands chase busy and demanding consumers. Prepared food has demonstrated larger margins, drives loyalty and traffic and encourages cross-selling in other areas of the store. But this doesn’t have to be overwhelming operationally or expose the brand to unnecessary damage. Co-invest in food safety as you build out the convenience.