Today I begin three weeks of research interviews in Europe on how to increase the value of New Zealand food exports by communicating the “credence attributes” to consumers (see current research for more information). “Credence” means things like our clean green image, animal welfare, food safety or anything else you can’t experience by consuming the product.
I will try to share some of the experiences that won’t be so easy to describe in a written research report, and also encourage readers to make comments, as many of you will have had your own experiences and thoughts that can add to this.
McDonald’s aims to begin purchasing verified sustainable beef in 2016
The big question is, how do you define sustainable?
The answer to this is being sought by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) a group made up of conservation groups, farmer associations, retailers and companies providing products and services to the global beef industry
GRSB prescribes to the “triple bottom line” approach in defining sustainability, meaning a a sustainable beef system must be environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible. This week they have published a draft document outlining “Principles and Criteria for Global Sustainable Beef” The draft document is open for public comment through May 16, 2014.
Natural resources – Global sustainable beef stakeholders produce beef in a manner that identifies and manages natural resources responsibly and maintains or enhances the health of ecosystems.
People and community – Global sustainable beef stakeholders protect and respect human rights, and recognise the critical roles that all participants within the beef value chain play in their community regarding culture, heritage, employment, land rights and health.
Animal health and welfare – Global sustainable beef stakeholders respect and manage animals to ensure their health and welfare.
Food – Global sustainable beef stakeholders ensure the safety and quality of beef products and utilize information-sharing systems that promote beef sustainability.
Efficiency and innovation – Global sustainable beef stakeholders encourage innovation, optimise production, reduce waste and add to economic viability.
These principles are being left somewhat general with the idea that they will be made more specific at a local level.
The importance of supply chain integrity has been highlighted by results that show a year after the horse-meat scandal tests in the UK show that 1/3 of food products are mislabelled.
Consumers are being sold drinks with banned flame-retardant additives, pork in beef, and fake cheese, laboratory tests show
Consumers are being sold food including mozzarella that is less than half real cheese, ham on pizzas that is either poultry or “meat emulsion”, and frozen prawns that are 50% water, according to tests by a public laboratory.
The checks on hundreds of food samples, which were taken in West Yorkshire, revealed that more than a third were not what they claimed to be, or were mislabelled in some way. Their results have been shared with the Guardian.
Testers also discovered beef mince adulterated with pork or poultry, and even a herbal slimming tea that was neither herb nor tea but glucose powder laced with a withdrawn prescription drug for obesity at 13 times the normal dose.