David McCorquodale, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, comments on the horse meat situation: “This is an issue that should never have happened. However, the fact is it has and the industry now must deal with it, sort it and re-establish the trust of the consumer. Getting to the bottom of what has happened and how widespread it is must be an absolute priority.
“Retailers need to test today, ask questions tomorrow and expect widespread industry change the day after. There may be regulatory hardening in the medium term, but we can only speculate whether or not this will be sufficient to achieve the change the industry clearly needs.
“The tests may reveal that this is only the tip of the iceberg and corruption or cutting corners is more endemic than originally anticipated. The real questions are why this crisis has happened and what needs to change to prevent it happening again. It appears that in certain situations there has been a fundamental breakdown at the heart of complex supply chains that stretch across the globe as well as in the checks and balances in place to maintain their credibility.
“It’s the responsibility of everyone involved to find out what has happened and why. While the temptation to play the blame game is strong, especially with an upset public calling for answers, retailers, Government and suppliers need to work together to find answers.”
Liz Claydon, UK head of Consumer Markets at KPMG, said: “In the aftermath of this issue we need to see widespread behavioural change in the industry and closer relationships formed between retailers and suppliers. After all, while this is an issue of governance and controls, it’s also about trust and restoring trust within the supply chain itself. Retailers and suppliers need to work more closely together, and this may mean retailers having to pay more for their products or driving efficiencies in a much safer way. This will inevitably mean shortening the supply chain and knowing every step that the product has taken, from field to freezer – something consumers are right to believe was already there. This greater visibility may come at a price and inject costs back into the supply chain but that cannot be greater than the cost of loss of trust in a brand.
“Lessons can be taken from other industries, such as the pharmaceuticals industry, and adopted in the food chain. All players in the food and retail industry need to work hand in glove with Government agencies to shape robust practices and appropriate regulation that are fit for purpose for the modern retail environment.”
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