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When is it in your own interests?

The  report from the IGD ShopperVista research survey of consumers has been  recently quoted in a number of presentations, particularly by the IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch. She quoted the report’s findings that six in 10 shoppers trusted food and grocery companies to do the right thing most of the time, but 73% thought they only did the right thing when forced to by law or when it was in their own interests.

The public concerns about traceability are unsurprising after recent fraud and sourcing problems and their expectation that food and grocery companies should know where every ingredient comes from is strongly felt by 80% of consumers.

As recent press stories about pizzas have confirmed this can be a great challenge.

To this challenge is added the calls for transparency.

But what form should this take?

Should companies create a web based reference point where consumers can look and find out the sources of the ingredients of their favourite ready meal……..and so can the producers/brand owner’s competitors.

Should the packaging carry the source information in the ingredient list? ……….but would the consumer accept the price increase to cover the frequent changes in packaging to enable the changes from Irish to English to Australian beef?

Could you guarantee that the ‘Irish’ packaging is all destroyed before the ‘English’ packs were introduced or would you run the risk of press headlines that accused you of lying to the consumers when an isotope test ‘exposed’ your mistake.

It has been suggested that independent organisations may offer judgements on company ethics and transparency thereby offering the consumers a source of information on which to judge. Will they be independent? Will their sources and methods be more reliable than the existing systems the food industry uses to protect their supply lines?

If such sources are offered to the consumers how could food companies protect themselves from inaccurate and unfair ratings?

The first step must surely be to strengthen their own positions and consider using Supplier Audit Management systems.  These systems benefit from having a wider view. Their experience is constantly building, and that quickly feeds back into refinements and developments that help to protect the food companies that use them.

Such systems as those offered by QADEX would reinforce a company’s control of risks in its ingredient supply chain and provide a means of increasing transparency and evidence for a rebuttal of inaccurate ratings.

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