Katy Askew

Supply chain scandal could go global

By: Katy Askew - 27 February 2013 14:53

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The horsemeat scandal that has shaken the European food industry and drawn into question the reliability and security of the modern supply chain looks like it could jump continents and spread to South Africa.

According to researchers from the University of Stellenbosch, a majority of South African supermarkets could be selling mislabeled meat products.

Of 139 samples taken by the researchers, 68% tested positive for ingredients not listed on the packaging. Unlisted pork was present in 37% of samples and a quarter of products contained unlisted chicken.

The study foundfound traces of a variety of animals, from donkey and goat to water buffalo. But perhaps more significantly, 28% of products contained unlisted allergens such as gluten or soy.

The survey targeted products containing processed meats - from burgers to deli and dried meats and sausages. Samples had been collected over a three month period in mid-2012, the researchers said.

The horsemeat scandal has ignited debate over where we should look to find protein. Commentators have suggested that the industry should lead consumers to more sustainable sources of protein, with the FAO going as far as to suggest the widespread uptake of entomophagy - eating insects.

However, the horsemeat revelations have also raised some very real concerns over supply chain security and prompted consumers to question whether they can trust that the food they buy is what it claims to be.

For just-food's analysis of how security down the supply chain can be improved, click here.

The South African researchers' findings highlight another uncomfortable truth: if the European supply chain is untrustworthy, then can manufacturers in other global markets can rely on their supply chains?

As consumers, regulators, manufacturers and retailers around the world step-up scrutiny of the products on their shelves, the supply chain scandal could be set to get a global dimension. Clearly this is an issue that has the potential to undermine consumer confidence - not just in Europe but on an international level.

Tomorrow, we will be discussing the results of our international confidence survey in a free webinar. It is likely that consumer confidence and trends driving NPD will be heavily influenced by the increased drive for provenance, traceability and reliability in 2013. Tune in to hear our panel of experts discuss this and other topics - ranigng from emerging markets to M&A. 

You can register to attend the webinar here - it takes place at 3pm GMT.

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