It is not possible these days to open a newspaper in the old fashioned way or reading an e-paper without seeing a supermarket story somewhere. Whether it is a Labour Leader “wannabe” here in New Zealand talking about a supermarket code of conduct, Tesco in the UK suspending more finance executives because they were a bit liberal with their bean counting techniques, Aldi and Lidl increasing their market share in the UK to the point that their full service competitors are beginning to feel the pain, or Woolworths opening its first dark store in Sydney. None of these stories deal with the heart of the matter – which is that society as a whole is going through an enhanced value adjusting change cycle that impacts upon a whole range of our behaviours, including how we eat and how we shop. And the eating and shopping changes are not happening in isolation but are deeply connected to ethical values, environmental beliefs, demographic fluctuations and the future of work.
What has not changed is that we need to eat; although even that is increasingly being questioned. When society segmented, turning some of our forebears into town dwellers whilst others worked the land, we started an evolutionary process which is a dynamic and living organism that manifests itself into what we see today when we set out to restock fridge and freezer.
Do we go to the supermarket or should we visit butcher, baker and greengrocer separately? Does the state of the wallet point us towards the local Salvation Army Food Bank? Do we actually need to leave the house at all? Dialling up a supermarket delivery via the smart phone is increasingly becoming the cool way to “go” shopping. Or is leaving the house inevitable – how else can we succeed with dumpster diving?
When I arrived in New Zealand, supermarkets were not selling milk. That was something the milkman brought to my front door. The cheese counter was limited to Chesdale slices, as well as Anchor blocks which came in Mild, Cheddar and Colby options. Bagged salads were a figment of imagination, as were chilled pre-cooked soups, local Camembert, Quark and store loyalty cards. Thirty odd years later, all these products have become part of my daily routine – apart from Quark but that is a different story.
Once we can accept that change is inevitable when it comes to how we acquire our food over the years, we can get down to focusing on what matters in the here and now – which is that all our food sources need to be safe and the food fit for human consumption. Food Safety will increasingly become a key focus for every business in the food value chain. There is nothing simple about food but we can make our life considerably easier by understanding and adhering to the food safety requirements of the food we grow, harvest, sell and eat.