Horsemeat Supply Chains

Food supply chains are affected by supply chain trends such as globalization, consolidation, and commoditization. Supply chain managers have eagerly sought to apply textbook knowledge to these supply chains. Consequently, companies have concentrated on core competencies like processing or marketing to meet customer requirements. However, the horsemeat scandal is just another example to reveal that food supply chains got out of control. The more complex supply chain systems become, the less controllable they seem to be. Based on a series of incidents in food supply chains, Roth and her co-authors (2008) have developed a conceptual framework for quality management in food supply chains. The framework contains six Ts, which are identified as critical factors associated with food (or more generally: product) quality: (1) traceability, (2) transparency, (3) testability, (4) time, (5) trust, and (6) training. I believe that this framework can help improving food supply chains, but customers should also stop focusing solely on food price rather than food quality.

Roth, A., Tsay, A., Pullman, M., & Gray, J. (2008). Unraveling the food supply chain: Strategic insights from China and the 2007 recalls The Journal of Supply Chain Management, 44 (1), 22-39 DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-493X.2008.00043.x

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About Andreas Wieland

Andreas Wieland is an Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management at Copenhagen Business School. His current research interests include resilient and socially responsible supply chains.

2 responses to “Horsemeat Supply Chains”

  1. Navdeep Sidhu says :

    “The more complex supply chain systems become, the less controllable they seem to be.”

    I don’t know if it’s that they are less controllable so much as there are more parts to worry about controlling. Complex supply chains have a lot of pieces that need to function independently of each other and still work together without fail. The bigger is it the more opportunities there are for things to go wrong.

  2. Oz says :

    I was in a purchasing networking event and we were listening on Supply Chain Risk, one of the members mentioned that the horse-meat suppliers were initially involved in another scandal in Ireland previously. The history and procurement knowledge seems to be an integral part of the supply chain risk assessment.

    PS. Thank you for the blog.

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