Marketing chiefs back sector to overcome burger scandal
on 17/01/2013 00:00:00
Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter described the horse meat controversy as a disappointment.
"This is a disappointing development at a time when the Irish food industry has been performing so strongly," Mr Cotter said.
"Nevertheless it is important to note that the industry's success is based on robust relationships with premium customers, built up over an extended period and capable of withstanding many challenges.
"Bord Bia is liaising closely with the FSAI and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to provide all the necessary assurances to overseas customers where required."
Ireland's food exports surpassed €9bn for the first time last year. The strongest performing sectors were meat and livestock at €3bn, seafood at €493m and beverages at €1.26bn.
Ciara Jackson, Grant Thornton head of food, warned about the reputational damage being done to the Irish food sector on the back of the investigation.
"Every second that the horse meat story runs on Sky News could translate into millions of euro in lost sales," she said.
Ms Jackson said the integrity of the food supply chain in Ireland was the bedrock that underpins the food and drink industry.
"All stakeholders in the meat business, from farmers through to supermarkets, are under severe pressure to sustain profitability," she said.
"Now, more than ever, it is vital the industry collaborates to create a resilient supply chain that can deliver cost efficiencies whilst ensuring Irish produce maintains its international reputation."
However, Professor Chris Elliott, director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast, said the substitution of low quality, low value materials for their authentic counterparts has plagued food production for centuries.
"As we are now in a global food supply chain the chances of such events occurring have increased markedly," he said.
"While retailers operate wide-ranging audit systems to verify that their supply chains are robust, there must be scientific verification that these systems are working. This might seem a simple solution but it is far from that.
"The costs involved in undertaking high-level verification will ultimately be passed to the consumer. However, I believe this is a price worth paying to ensure what we eat is what we think we have purchased."