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February 23, 2013 1:08 am
From Ms Mella Frewen.
Sir, Your article “Demand for cheap food drives hard bargaining in global supply chain” (February 16) goes to the heart of the issue revealed by the recent horsemeat scandal across Europe, namely, increased pressure along the supply chain to cut costs and consumer demand for ultra-cheap foods.
In the current climate, the price-quality ratio has become even more significant as cash-strapped consumers try to provide wholesome meals for themselves and their families at an affordable cost. Indeed, with the amount of dispensable household income for the weekly food shop steadily dwindling (by as much as 10 per cent in some EU markets), this is unsurprising. These pressures have, in isolated cases, forced compromises on quality and, worse still, instances of fraud. As consumer confidence takes a knock, these incidents dilute any efforts from the industry to help consumers make the right choice of healthier foods. FoodDrinkEurope believes that a key issue driving this unacceptable behaviour is the rush for pricing competitiveness among supermarkets that attempt to offer consumers the cheapest foods possible; quality has suffered dramatically as a result. How can we collectively intervene to prevent this race to the bottom?
Europe’s food manufacturers must provide a wide range of safe, tasty and affordable foods to more than 500m EU consumers every day. As regulatory pressures heighten, along with demands for more sustainable business models, and as food companies come under the increasing pressure of their clients to cut costs, concessions made on quality are no doubt a temptation for the unscrupulous.
There is no time like the present to reaffirm the principle that higher- quality ingredients come at a price and, while we are at it, we should revisit the price-quality equation of our food in Europe.
Mella Frewen, Director General, FoodDrinkEurope, Brussels, Belgium
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