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IKEA Food Recalls Should Inspire Alternate Ways To Sell Food

Hallie Roth |
March 10, 2013 | 7:26 p.m. PDT


Swedish meatballs found in IKEA stores world-wide (miss eskimo-la-la, Wikimedia Commons)
Swedish meatballs found in IKEA stores world-wide (miss eskimo-la-la, Wikimedia Commons)
IKEA customers looking to take a quick lunch break from their exhausting days of scouring the over-sized furniture complex did not realize that they would be getting a little something extra with their meals. And I ain’t talkin’ about a free toy.

In recent news, IKEA recalled its chocolate and butterscotch almond cakes because it is possible that the cakes contained fecal matter. The cakes tested positively for a certain bacteria commonly found in feces. This incident follows a recent recall of IKEA's famous Swedish meatballs in Europe because they contained horse meat.

These consecutive recalls are concerning for the average IKEA customer who depends on IKEA’s food items to make his or her visit to the store fulfilling. Although it may seem appropriate for IKEA to get rid of its food all together, that option would not be very effective for the store's success, given that IKEA’s food items bolster consumer responsiveness.

As advertised in the IKEA food section of the website, the company promotes making visits to the store a family experience, and part of that means providing food at affordable prices. It seems as though the availability of food convinces families to making shopping at IKEA a day-long event. And low prices are always a means of getting customers to come to IKEA to eat. Then they can realize how affordable the furniture is as well. It's a great way to promote purchases.

While IKEA should not just close their kitchens for good, the company first needs to recall the questionable products from every store to promote uniformity. The contamination of the meatballs in Europe could mean the same for food products sold at IKEA in the United States. 

As a solution to this problem, stores should consider alternate methods of food sales. Instead of selling hot “cafeteria-like” food, stores should be selling cold pre-wrapped food, like ready-made sandwiches and salads in containers. They can also supplement this with bagged chips and snacks. There is something about wrapped food that makes it appear fresher than hot food touched by many hands at the store, even if the kitchen is sanitary.

An IKEA store in Vantaa, Finland in Europe (Yero, Wikimedia Commons)
An IKEA store in Vantaa, Finland in Europe (Yero, Wikimedia Commons)

Stores may also want to bring in franchises to sell their food in-store, instead of selling their own. “Brand awareness” is very prominent among consumers. Customers trust brand names more than they trust independent businesses, because franchises guarantee similarity in meals at any location. A consumer eating IKEA's Swedish meatballs most likely has no idea where they are coming from. IKEA's U.S. site does not mention a specific brand anywhere, although it does state that IKEA supports “ecological farming” and “organically grown products.” “Organic” is right, if we’re talking about feces here.

It may be sad to see the cheap Swedish meatballs go, but it is the price IKEA has to pay to regain consumer trust. We did not all run to Wendy’s as soon as a customer claimed to have found a finger in her chili. Consumers are very fussy when it comes to satisfaction. If you have ever worked in retail, you may have heard an old saying. When a consumer likes a product, he tells one person, but if he hates the product, he tells ten people. IKEA needs to start building its reputation again to keep the public shopping all day with a nice lunch break in between. And let’s face it—kitchens and poop don’t really mix.


Reach Contributor Hallie Roth here.



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