The Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative has picked up a couple of more signatories, and they are important ones. Garry Bergstrom, Business Development Director of Produce/Floral for Publix and Jim Lemke, Vice President, Produce for C.H. Robinson Worldwide have signed onto the Initiative.
Publix joining the Initiative is significant. The company is almost reclusive and rarely joins industry programs. For them to step out and accept the publicity that comes with signing something like this indicates a strong corporate priority to be a part of solving this food safety issue in the produce trade.
Jim Lemke’s signature may be even more significant. First of all, Jim Lemke is not only the VP of Produce, he is an Executive officer of C.H. Robinson, a New York Stock Exchange listed company. So his signature represents a very high level of commitment by C.H. Robinson to resolving this issue.
C.H. Robinson also may play an intriguing role in this initiative. Conspicuous by its absence from the list of signatories is the largest produce retailer: Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart isn’t explaining its reasons. We interviewed many buyers who had elected not to participate, and they gave their reasons here, here, here, here and here. Basically many buyers object to the public nature of the initiative and others want government regulation, not buyer-driven standards.
C.H. Robinson’s largest produce client is Wal-Mart. It is inconceivable the company would participate in this effort in the face of active opposition from Wal-Mart. So the $64,000 question is this: Does the participation of C.H. Robinson forebode a change of heart at Wal-Mart?
In any case, the full line-up of those endorsing the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative now stands as follows:
Ron Anderson, Safeway, Inc.
Gary Bergstrom, Publix
Craig Carlson, Pathmark Stores
Jim Corby, Food Lion
Greg Corrigan, Raley’s
David Corsi, Wegman’s Food Markets
Brian Gannon, Big Y Supermarkets
Gary Gionnette, Supervalu Inc.
Reggie Griffin, Kroger Company
Mike Hansen, Sysco Corporation
Don Harris, Wild Oats Markets
Gene Harris, Denny’s Corporation
Mark Hilton, Harris-Teeter
Craig Ignatz, Giant Eagle
Jim Lemke, C.H. Robinson Worldwide
Mike O’Brien, Schnuck Markets
Frank Padilla, Costco Wholesale
Greg Reinauer, Amerifresh, Inc.
Roger Schroeder, Stater Bros.
James Spilka, Meijer, Inc.
Mark Vanderlinden, Price Chopper
Tim York, Markon Cooperative