Fresh, wholesome produce has continued its mainstay appeal to consumers looking for healthy, minimally processed foods that are responsibly sourced. One recent study indicates a nearly $8 billion growth in sales of fresh produce from 2019 to 2021, even in light of the global pandemic.1 While the produce industry continues to innovate and modernize, the challenges of the fresh produce industry in food safety is maintaining consumer confidence in our food safety programs and processes from seed to feed. At Fresh Del Monte, we are continuously evaluating and monitoring our food safety programs to ensure that the highest level of food safety is met each and every day.
The uniqueness of produce in the food and beverage industry is the lack of a killstep that is a 5-log or greater reduction in pathogens. Fresh Del Monte is able to maintain "fresh from the fields" for all of our products, through rigorous management and monitoring of key food safety metrics, as well as ongoing and continuous monitoring of food safety culture and food safety readiness. At the same time, we work to ensure a safe and reliable supply chain from our growers to our end customers and consumers.
Ensuring that we monitor, manage, and actively improve our food safety programs starts with defining and measuring key food safety metrics. We have a focused and measured environmental monitoring program (for pathogens, allergens, and foreign objects) throughout our facilities, field, and packing houses. We also have a robust corrective action program that seeks to continuously improve by sharing learnings and implementing best practices. At Fresh Del Monte, we go through thousands of data points every week to identify potential hotspots (both positive and opportunities) and develop a heat map that clearly identifies potential issues.
Great programs start with great people, and at Fresh Del Monte each food safety team member is entrusted with the brand's legacy of the highest levels of food safety and quality. We continuously monitor and manage our people through the evolution of a supportive, diverse, and inclusive culture by using external third-party surveys, and an operational survey that includes awareness and skillset review of key operations personnel. By doing this, we can develop robust programs to uplift our culture through personal and professional trainings specifically tailored to individual teams based on the survey results.
Fresh Del Monte's ability to secure 100 percent traceability from field to fork ensures that our entire supply chain—from our suppliers to our end users—complies with Fresh Del Monte's rigorous food safety requirements. We are continuously evaluating technologies to improve the speed and accuracy of our traceback activities. In preparation for FSMA 204, we are proceeding well in advance of the enforcement date to ensure that our suppliers and technology are vetted and verified, and we continue to push forward ahead of our industry peers.
Fresh Del Monte is proud to supply fresh produce in the safest manner possible every day. We seek to create a culture of inclusivity and diversity by ensuring that everything we do and say supports our values. Our commitment to science-based and data-driven decision-making, as well as our enhanced capabilities to track and trace our product along our vertical supply chain, allows us to be part of a healthy and well-balanced source of foods for consumers.
- M. Shahbandeh. "Total department sales of fresh produce in the U.S. from 2019 to 2021." Statista. December 1, 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1277676/fresh-produce-sales-in-the-us/.