‘Where’s the beef?’

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
8 September 2014

11 September 2014 | Paul Snell

Paul SnellIt could have been my “you can’t win anything with kids” moment. In a discussion among the SM team one morning, I stated casually: “I don’t think you can buy anything that’s 100 per cent ethical.”

Perhaps I was a little hasty (not to mention cynical). We report regularly on the efforts of organisations that are taking massive steps to improve the sustainability of their supply chains, and the deadlines they are putting in place to achieve this.

But the rising number of supply chain scandals being uncovered suggests that some businesses are barely scratching the surface – at best – when it comes to sustainability.

In this issue, we have attempted to test out my statement, and try to answer the question of whether consumers are able to make an informed choice about the product supply chains.

I will leave you to draw your own conclusion, but I don’t think my initial statement has been proved wrong. There is information out there, which is a first step, but these lengthy reports are not exactly user-friendly and don’t provide the cast-iron confidence desired.

Consumers also need a reality check. It’s right to expect you are purchasing what it says on the tin – beef rather than horse, for example. But it is a delusion to believe that the six burgers you just purchased in the supermarket for £2 are going to be 100 per cent prime beef.

Companies need to provide customers with genuine assurance, but the public must prove its demand is more than just lip-service by making those choices.

☛ If you are facing an ethical dilemma and would like some expert help to resolve it, send an email to editorial@supplymanagement.com and we’ll put it (anonymously) to our panel of experts at the CIPS Annual Conference in London on 2 October. To book your place, visit www.cipsannualconference.com

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