Do you want fries with your horse meat burger?
Supply chains are funny things. Firms often take the word of their trading partners that everything is as they say it is. Supplies and materials are infrequently checked.
As a result, something as simple as ‘meat’ can be supplied, used, and sold for a while before anyone notices that anything is amiss.
Horse meat burgers? Possibly not a problem, except when the meat has been labelled as ‘Beef’. Hm. So – Irish company, supplying ‘beef’ that isn’t beef and instead horse meat. Sure, horse meat is vastly cheaper – but they’d have to think that they’d be caught out. Possibly the manufacturer of the hamburger patties was caught out with faulty supplies? But why wasn’t the different meat noticed? Why did it take such a long time for someone to pick it up?
Security of supply and being able to assure consumers that everything in the supply chain is OK is becoming an increasingly important competitive advantage, rooted in supply chain management. Being able to verify materials and provide assurance is particularly crucial in the food and beverage industries.
Just in the Western world?
Hell no – this is important everywhere. While in Hong Kong the other year I was having a meal in Mc Donalds (YES – even my students told me that this was stupid! I’ve since been and tried a variety of local meals and foods and enjoyed most of it!). While munching the food, I noticed that McD was advertising (on the paper sheet on the plastic tray) that they have complete visibility over their chicken supply chain, assuring consumers that the meat was safe, compliant with regulations, and was generally GREAT to eat. Trust McD. In this case, with a strong firm in the chain, sourcing from a few major firms to make a small range of food in the restaurant, there is probably better chances that McD is doing a good job, much more so than a supermarket chain like Tesco is doing a good job of making sure that there is no horse meat in meat patties from one supplier (how many SKUs does Tesco have? Probably upwards of 40,000!).
Burger King – stopped using the horse meat pattie supplier. You would have thought that Burger King would likewise have been able to provide assurance that their materials were ‘good’ and trustworthy … hm….
Food – assurance of supply and security of supply is crucial. Welcome to 21st century supply chains.