sandyHurricane Sandy sparked lessons for the food industry players. Associations and retailers have seen the storm as an eye-opener, according to industry leaders at the Food Marketing Institute’s Midwinter Conference. The storm gave the entire food industry lessons for future crises.

Regional leaders faced overwhelming challenges during the storm while trying to communicate with stakeholders and coordinate logistics. Even though some had gone through prior crises, the Superstorm found them not fully prepared.

The panelists at the midwinter session included Wakefern Food Corp. Quality Assurance Division Vice President Mike Ambrosio; Krasdale Foods’ Vice President of Government Relations and Retail Services Mitch Klein, New Jersey Food Council President Linda Doherty, and Food Industry Alliance of New York CEO and President James Rogers.

Some lessons learned include:

  • Most businesses have to take care of themselves in such crises because the government’s first priority is residents and not businesses.
  • Businesses need to build helpful relationships with utility and other companies they may need at such times of catastrophes. These will be needed in case some emergency handling is required.
  • Full employee contact information should be available in advance so their whereabouts are known when a crisis occurs
  • Know how to respond appropriately to reactionary regulations and legislation that usually follow crises, as some are often poorly conceived.
  • Know who the point person is in the states and monitor the changes that happen frequently.

The panelists shared their thoughts during the sessions and hope any future crisis will find the food industry more prepared to handle communication and logistics more effectively.