The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T +44 (0)1227 764000
Horses for courses?
Professor Andrew Fearne, an expert at Kent Business School in food marketing and the supply chain between producer and store, says everyone must take responsibility for the horsemeat scandal - not just the meat suppliers. Professor Fearne comments:
'The current horsemeat scandal is the latest example of a food chain running ever faster just to stand still, falling victim to one short-cut too many in the pursuit of survival. In the UK, thanks to the 1990 Food Safety Act, due diligence reigns, so whilst our continental horse traders may well have been testing the market for retired hunting nags, it is the supermarket buyers who are legally obliged to carry the can and, more importantly, need to wake up to the reality of commoditisation - offering more for less and turning a blind eye to the unintended consequences thereof.
'We don't know exactly what happened in this latest case of horseplay in the UK food industry but we do know that no one individual organisation is to blame. There is a collective responsibility for the development of sustainable food chains and the delivery of sustainable food. Transparency in food supply chains is entirely possible but comes at a cost - not the cost of traceability systems or data capture but the cost of revealing the 'truth' and knowing the 'reality'.
'The beauty of doubt and uncertainty is that it leaves the door wide open for assumptions and bounded rationality, without which we would all be obliged to pay more for our burgers, whatever the prefix.'
Andrew Fearne is Professor of Food Marketing and Value Chain Management and Director of the Centre for Value Chain Research at Kent Business School. He is also Head of Kent Business School at the University's Medway campus.
Story published at 10:18am 27 February 2013
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