Supermarkets must shorten supply chains to reduce threat of disruption, say MPs

Gurjit Degun
1 July 2014

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1 July 2014 | Gurjit Degun

Supermarkets have been urged to shorten their supply chains to reduce the risk of disruption and increase food security, by a group of MPs.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report into food security said short supply chains "involve fewer transactions in the production of any one product”.

The report added: “While securing our ports and ensuring good trading relationships are important aspects of food security for which the government is largely responsible, ensuring good relationships with primary food producers is the responsibility of the food industry as a whole, and that of the supermarket sector in particular.”

The committee said it was concerned about the length of supply chains, particularly for processed and frozen meat products. It said it had already raised this in a previous report on food contamination, and welcomes the “efforts made by some retailers to shorten these”.

It added: “As a result of horse meat contamination in 2013 the government commissioned a review of supply chain resilience. We look forward to the final report on this matter, and to receiving any evidence that supply chains in general are becoming shorter.”

The committee also called for government to reduce dependence on soya bean for animal feed. “Our livestock and dairy produce is heavily dependent on imported soya bean for animal feed,” the report explained.

“Projected increases in the demand for protein from emerging economies in India, China and other parts of Asia, Africa and South America, threaten our supply of soya bean, currently imported mainly from South America.

“In view of the significant strategic risk and cost the UK is exposed to in relation to its animal feed imports, the government needs to put in place a plan for alternative animal feed for the livestock and dairy sectors.”

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