Of Supplier Management…and Horsemeat

The horsemeat scandal in the UK has been occupying a lot of media attention and, I’m sure, much time and effort amongst procurement and supply chain managers in the food industry and elsewhere.

It raises so many questions for our profession, and there are very obvious issues here around supplier management in the broadest sense – including questions around quality assurance regimes, supplier information, verification, understanding multi-tier supply chains, systems and technology for managing supplier information and performance… it’s a long list.

In the horsemeat case, the supply chain grows more complex the more it is investigated. The product was sold in various retail outlets; it was branded as “Findus”; manufactured by Comigel in Luxembourg; the meat may have been sold to them by another French firm Spanghero, and came from a Romanian abattoir. I wonder how many people eating the Findus Lasagne would have even considered that the meat (whatever provenance it turns out to have) would have come from Romania? Indeed, did the retail buyers know this?

But we’re not going to pursue those complex supply chain issues any further today, important though they are. And we’ll undoubtedly come back to them. We want to talk about two less tangible issue, perhaps – trust and risk.

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