Restaurateurs willing to pay more for safer fresh produce

It’s difficult to predict how individuals and organizations will actually react (I’m suspicious of self-reported surveys) but at the PMA foodservice expo the below data was released suggesting that  89% of 510 surveyed restaurant operators would be "willing to pay more for guaranteed-safe fresh fruits, vegetables and leafy greens".

From the press release:

Restaurateurs are willing to pay more for produce that is guaranteed to be safe, according to research unveiled here Saturday during the Produce Marketing Association’s annual Foodservice Conference & Exposition.

Traceability even made it into the discussion:

More than three-fourths, or 76 percent, of the restaurant owners or restaurant purchasing agents interviewed in a nationwide phone survey in April and 10 chain purchasing executives interviewed in June said they would be willing to pay more for produce that was traceable from the farm to the restaurant to enable quicker action when contamination is discovered.

Marketing fresh produce food safety, where producers or wholesalers tell the story of employing GAPs, release data on their sampling strategies and tell folks why what they do is so important is the next step. Don’t just stop at the downstream buyers like retailers and foodservice, go right to the consumer.

Calls for mandatory government inspection is akin to mandatory restaurant inspection — it sets a bare minimum standard, is a snapshot in time, and has little to do with future outbreaks of food poisoning.
Rules and regulations look pretty on paper. But they are not comforting to those 76 million Americans who get sick from the food and water they consume each and every year. Instead, every grower, packer, distributor, retailer and consumer needs to adopt a culture that actually values safe food.

And market it. Tell the world, put all the information on your website. Tweet what you’re doing. Put up webcams.

The caveat is that you have to be able to back it up — that you are employing the best available science and management strategies to reduce risk.

The first company that can assure consumers they aren’t eating poop on fresh produce, will make millions and capture markets.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.