Cover & Feature Stories
Most organizations have to conduct business strategically in an age of expediency. They have to endure, do what is necessary to survive both their company's financial situation and the demands of suffering customers. Yet they must prevail, prepared to lift off when the recession winds down and better times return. Know Thy Customer
The risk of selling contaminated food as a result of its production is obvious. The massive national publicity given to the recent outbreaks has made food safety top of mind. Most delis use fresh produce in sandwich programs and other foods, so the safety of fresh produce and other ingredients is of immediate concern. However, deli-specific product has also been implicated recently - with harsh results.
Although it is commonly used, sustainability is an awkward term; it really is best thought of as a kind of catch-all phrase, incorporating sustainable development, corporate social responsibility and other initiatives. Although the definition has a pleasing vagueness, in many ways it begs the question: How are we supposed to know what future generations are going to need?
It is tempting to say that changes in the industry have transformed the role of the buyer of deli and other perishable foods, but a more accurate assessment is that a profoundly new situation has altered the role of every player in the supply chain. How any individual retailer or vendor deals with the new supply chain realities will play a big role in the success each organization will enjoy in the years to come.
Proposals for competing with Wal-Mart are designed to help supermarkets focus on those consumers who value variety and service and appreciate exceptional quality more than they value low price. The dilemma here is that this strategy is almost certainly correct for any individual store, yet, applied on the scale of a national chain, it winds up forfeiting large swathes of the consumer market to Wal-Mart.