GHQ Cover Story 07/05: Food safety’s quiet revolution
By George Anderson
Through special arrangement with Grocery Headquarters magazine, we present these opportunities to discuss the subjects of GHQ’s monthly cover stories.
Busch’s has found that, when it comes to food safety, going beyond what is required by the government
is a point of difference that consumers tell the grocer they appreciate with every dollar spent in its 11 stores.
“Inspections are a part of being in business, and we’ve always gotten good ratings from [Michigan’s department of agriculture]. But we wanted more than good ratings from the
state.” Dan Courser, chief operating officer for Busch’s, told Grocery Headquarters. “Our standards are high, and we wanted people to know that. What you don’t see, like
the microbial testing, helps make the program viable.”
Where others are happy to comply with local, state and federal regulations, Busch’s has gone farther with its food safety program that includes third-party certification from
NSF International’s FreshCheck program.
Mary Weaver, a project manager for the FreshCheck program, said, “The groups we work with aren’t just ahead of the game, but want to get way beyond it. It’s not about meeting
government regulations, but it’s being progressive, being proactive versus reactive, and showing a genuine concern for food safety.”
Busch’s is not alone in the grocery retail business in using third-parties to assure the safety of the products it sells, but where others prefer to handle that part of their
business quietly, the Michigan-based chain includes it as part of its marketing and advertising program.
“Food safety is an integral part of our organization,” said Mr. Courser. “We hold it near and dear, and an important part of our culture.”
Consultant Dave Adams believes companies such as Busch’s are on the right track. “The next step has to be marketing, to make your commitment to food safety part of your branding,”
he said. “The catch is figuring out how to do that. Nobody wants to say they’re taking extra precautions, if only because they’ll look bad if and when someone screws up.”
Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the marketing of food safety initiatives by retailers to create a point of difference from other retailers
in the minds of consumers? –
George Anderson – Moderator