During my time at SM I’ve written and read an awful lot of procurement stories. Some of them have been pretty major, the aircraft carrier debacle or the G4S disaster for example. But every once in a while there is something really shocks me, and I read one of them this week.
Apparently, British cucumbers have become endangered. And not just cucumbers, but tomatoes and spring onions too. Even mushrooms appear in danger of extinction, and there are a number of other fruits and vegetables - including Brussels sprouts and leeks - that while not in critical danger, are not in the rudest of health. This is a report by the NFU, which has a vested interest on the behalf of food producers, so it is not entirely surprising it is laying a large part of the blame at the supermarkets’ door and asking them to work more collaboratively and up-front with producers. But that doesn’t make it any less important.
Strengthening and developing the UK food supply chain is vital in a number of important areas. It can strengthen the agriculture industry and thus direct money to some of the many SMEs in the sector. It can help protect the environment by sustaining the farms and fields of the country. And it can be a birthing ground for new and innovative food production techniques that can be replicated across the world to strengthen food security. But most importantly of all, it will ensure the survival of the good old English cucumber sandwich.