Duncan Swift, Head of the Food Advisory Group comments on today’s publication of the Elliott report.
“Whilst we don’t know the precise extent of food fraud, our experience provides evidence that it is a huge problem in the UK and Professor Elliot’s recommendations are welcome because they will help to drive up standards and cut the risk of it occurring.
“The problem is that the traceability and assurance procedures and anti-fraud resources necessary to reassure the public carry a substantial extra cost and are seen by many in government as additional red tape. The government will not want these costs to hit consumers so they will have to be absorbed by the food supply chain. And, with the supermarkets holding the whip hand in their relationship with suppliers, it’s the farmers and food suppliers and processors who are likely to be footing the bill.
“Food suppliers are already struggling with wafer thin profit margins, so any extra costs could trigger a wave of insolvencies. That would ultimately be bad news for consumers because it would reduce choice on the supermarket shelves and could even lead to higher prices because of less competition.
“Food suppliers and processors should look to get ahead of the game by improving and demonstrating their traceability and validation of all the products and ingredients they use. This will not only bring them into line with any new regulation that the government introduces in the wake of the Elliott report, it might also provide those early adopters with improved sales and profit margins, as consumers become increasingly concerned over the provenance of their foodstuffs and look for demonstrably assured products.”
Restructuring & insolvency