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Dispatches from EU food manufacturing and safety summit

Food industry needs to build public trust again

By Joe Whitworth+


Premier Foods final thoughts at EU summit
Premier Foods final thoughts at EU summit

The food industry needs to focus on building public trust back and supply chain integrity after recent incidents, according to the group head of manufacturing excellence at Premier Foods.

Graham Paterson told that the food industry has work to do after the recent scandals and whether a firm was directly affected or not, the media hype around it has affected every food business.

“A really strong underlying theme is about how do we, as an industry, build the public trust back in food and product safety and the integrity of the food supply chain after the recent horse meat scandal,” he said after the EU Food Manufacturing and Safety Summit in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

“There is a change in economic environment and opportunity that says for food business and manufacturing business as a whole need to be more agile and much more flexible in terms of their operations and where they focus their business if they want to sustain and grow because competition is so fierce.”

Emerging market growth

Paterson said that emerging markets are coming out on top more often than not.

“So there is a real wake up call probably to the Western world where you have more established longer, older companies that are actually getting a bit left behind by the faster, younger more agile companies coming up.”

He described the openness and honesty of companies at the conference as ‘really powerful’ based on how much everybody depends on each other to survive across the European food supply chain.

Product safety and traceability

Product safety is a spotlight issue at the moment because of the recent issues, said Paterson.

“We’ve been dealing with traceability, food safety and product safety since the 60’s and 70’s in a really structured way. It’s only when scandals hit that it comes to the public attention.

“The good thing about the food industry having to be so innovative just to survive is they are innovating on these old concepts.”

OEE is an age-old metric that a lot of companies have used, originally coming from engineering and automotive sectors.

“What’s happened is the concept of lean, the concept of continuous improvement and measuring performance and driving performance from the measurements has actually got much more traction in the food industry.”

Paterson added it was ‘essential’ for the EU food supply chain to get together at conferences to improve the health of the industry.

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