UK - The recent horse meat scandal across Europe shattered consumer trust in the meat industry.
However, by having a short and transparent supply chain, the fast food chain McDonald’s was untouched by the repercussions of the scandal, according to McDonald’s UK supply chain direct Connor McVeigh.
Speaking at the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board Outlook Conference in London, Mr McVeigh said that challenges such as the horse meat scandal have continually eroded consumer trust.
“Consumers are questioning the food products they eat more and more,” he said.
“Supply chains were not robust enough and some people lost sight of their customers.
“The horse meat scandal rocked the foundations of our industry.
“McDonald’s was not affected.”
However, he added that just because McDonald’s was not affected by the scandal does not mean that the company could take the customers’ trust for granted
“We have to work harder to retain that trust,” he said.
He said that the provenance of the products that are supplied has to be able to stand up to media scrutiny and it has to be transparent and open.
He said that the essential aspects of the supply chain were to demonstrate sustainable practices as well as keeping costs down for the customer and maintaining the integrity of the product.
He said that the best way is through tested relationships and long term partnerships and he compared the McDonald’s partnerships to a three legged milking stool – with the partnerships between McDonald’s, the franchisees and the suppliers.
“The supply principle is that the stool is only as strong as its individual legs,” he said.
“For one to prosper, we must all prosper.”
The strong partnership arrangements help to give the suppliers the confidence to invest and improve their businesses.
As well as the partnership arrangements building trust, the short supply chain means that products are easily traceable and the trust is built with the customer.
He said that in building the supply chain it is essential to be customer focused and each part of the chain has to work together with the other parts.
Part of the support that the restaurant chain has offered its supplier partners is contained in the company’s Farm Forward programme that aims to apply higher welfare standards to production while producing food sustainably.
The programme that also backs young entrants into farming also offers support with funding for research and innovation and a carbon calculator for farmers to assess the carbon footprint of their production methods so that farmers can benchmark themselves against each other.
“It is important to work with partners in the supply chain to identify efficiencies that can deliver commercial and environmental benefits, but we must not lose sight of the consumer,” said Mr McVeigh.