CHANGES IN RETAIL FOOD DELIVERY: SIGNALS FOR PRODUCERS, PROCESSORS AND DISTRIBUTORS
Robert P. KING
Paul F. PHUMPIU
This paper contains two chapters related to changes in retail food delivery and sales. The first discusses trends in consumer demographics and lifestyles and how these continue to drive changes in the way food is prepared and delivered to consumers. Retail stores are responding with new formats: providing more ready to eat foods; more convenient store layouts; lower prices and better service in niche markets across the country. Their demands send signals up the food chain to processors and producers that alter their production and inventory decisions. Electronic information technology speeds these changes and leads to more efficient operation with, allegedly, better service for consumers. The second chapter discusses how advances in information technology affect not only the internal business operations in food firms throughout the food supply chain but also how the product flows and how businesses link their processes together. The reengineering of the food supply chain by way of an industry-wide initiative called "efficient consumer response" (ECR) is explained and analyzed for its motivations and implementation, thus far. The many facets of ECR such as product replenishment and promotion are discussed. Lessons learned from ECR include that it is possible to accommodate the coexistence of firms of various sizes and types, and that the role of trade associations in facilitating industry-wide changes is vital and impressive.
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