Session 1: ‘It all comes down to price for consumers’ – a discussion with local businesses

Session 1

Live blog notes from session 1 at The Elliott Review in Birmingham. Here on Table 3 for the first session – What’s happening now in Birmingham? – are a number of people from local businesses in Birmingham.

Questions discussed:

What is happening now in your part of the food supply network that might be or is linked to food crime?

How certain are you that food crime isn’t happening on your or across your patch?

What happens up- or down-stream from you that gives you reassurance or concern that food crime might be entering or by-passing the system?

Some of the points raised:

Consumer just looks at the price – that’s all it comes down to for consumers. Not just in food but in lots of other industries, eg fashion and clothing. Supply chain can get overlooked. So important that what we buy is very good. A lot of it at the moment is on trust.

You can’t go and buy a lasagne for £1 and expect for everything to be OK. People are happy to have their blinkers on and not really think about the issues about where their food is coming from – they just want a good deal. But it’s never what it says on the label. You get what you pay for?

Purchasing – logos (accreditations etc) used on paperwork often shouldn’t be there. When you start to dig, there are many untruths. Trust is part of the problem. Just because it says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Provenance is a huge part of our business. We check any claims that are made by a supplier, often going right back to the farm, which we visit.

The longer the chain, the bigger the problem. When the food network goes into Europe and international, things get even harder. One example given of a textile dye that was added to red chilli powder that was sourced from overseas. Product was recalled – three years into my business. Phoning customers was difficult but they were happy that it had been detected and that they had been made aware

Sometimes you phone at a weekend for advice and no-one is available

Majority of small businesses maybe don’t understand the issues and the accreditation process

Supermarkets use accredited sources but the horse meat scandal still happened. If they couldn’t stop it, what hope have the rest of us got? The starting point has to be the consumer and educating them. Horse meat scandal was all over the media – now there’s nothing. Why has no-one been prosecuted? The media have lost interest

Question – where are the consumers shopping who care about provenance etc? People are maybe growing their own, going back to the High Street (although this isn’t a solution).

Cuts to local government have had an impact – Trading Standards / environmental health. Traces of chicken in lamb that we bought.

‘Free range’ does not mean what consumers think it means. Consumers are manipulated. The chickens are not roaming around a meadow.

Tougher penalties are needed and a more joined-up approach for Government depts

Anyone can open a restaurant or catering outlet, with no training or qualifications. There should be some mandatory training. All food businesses need to have a licence to trade before they open

Tablecloth notes

Tablecloth notes at session one


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