FSA: Retailers’ plans to shorten food supply chains ‘unrealistic’

April 4, 2013

In a bid to prevent incidents happening such as the horsemeat scandal, retailers are planning to shorten their supply chains, although the plans are ‘unrealistic’ according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Retailers are currently in discussion about shortening their supply chain in order to prevent any type of food scandals from happening again.

Tesco has vowed to shorten its food supply chain after a large number of its beef products contained horsemeat. Phillip Clarke, Tesco chief executive said:

“By shorter [supply chain], we do not necessarily mean that the products we sell will come from the farm down the road. In a global environment, that is not possible.”

“But we do mean shorter in terms of the links in the chain,” Clarke continued.

“It if does not make the product better for our customers, that link will go. Every link puts distance between agriculture and us, so we want that chain to be shorter.”

However, according to a report by Food Manufacture, Andrew Rhodes, FSA director of operations, has stated that the shortening of supply chains is simply not possible due to the international input on the food supply chain today.

At the FSA’s board meeting help last month, Rhodes said, “Our country is not being enough to shorten supply chains. 50% of food is imported into the UK, so retailers cannot considerably shorten their supply chains.

“Also there are many foods that we cannot produce all year round in this country – we cannot grow strawberries for example, so that will demand length in the chain,” Rhodes added. He instead suggested that the focus should be on helping people to gain a better understanding of complex supply chains to prevent any scandals such as the horsemeat scandal from happening again.

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