A few weeks ago, I was talking with Elizabeth Weise, a reporter for USA Today, about food safety issues, specifically the advent of pre-harvest controls and how animal ag would react. Not well, I told her, but “There are two companies that could make this happen in a second, McDonalds and Walmart. If either decides to require it, the industry will turn around on a dime.”
The reasoning is simple and the thought process has been shared with me by industry execs several times. What the USDA or the FDA might decree is often seen as a needless and expensive incursion into doing business, an impediment to be resisted at all costs (pun unfortunately intended). What McDonald’s or Walmart will decree is a necessary cost of doing business.
Do you want to sell to the two biggest players in the food business? Follow their rules or go away. Fair enough.