Eight pros and cons of the horsemeat scandal for ethical/sustainable business

The horse meat scandal, rapidly spreading around Europe, is helpful for the ethical/sustainable business community. But it also has some serious cons for companies with regard to trust.

First, the upside:

1)    No-has been hurt. This is clearly important.

2)    It has put supply chain integrity right on the consumer, media and business agenda.

3)    The scandal shows us just how much in business is based on trust, how easily that trust is shattered, but also how much it matters.

4)    It will put transparency and traceability even higher up the corporate priority list. There’s a huge opportunity for companies to build trust through clarity and honesty as a result.

On the other hand…


5)    It demonstrates that supermarkets and retailers / processors of food have not been doing what we all assumed they were: Testing products to make sure they are what we think we are eating.

6)    The business, media and now political concerns emerging, show us how easily organised crime can and has penetrated supply chains.

7)    Retailers and food brands, while not testing products as they should have been, have clearly been conned by suppliers. Yet these are the very suppliers squeezed by the brands and retailers. So no-one is surprised.

8)    It’s another nail in the coffin for trust in a globalised food supply and demonstrates how vulnerable supply chains are to fraud, integrity problems, or simply falling over altogether.

All in, the scandal is a helpful thing for sustainable business advocates.

Yes consumers are worried, but real debate is being had about the high cost of cheap food.

Company supply chain sustainability and product integrity managers, amongst other functions, should now get a greater say in how sourcing takes place.

That can only be a good outcome in the long run.
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