Sir: Geoff Beattie’s letter (The Grocer, 18th January 2014) makes valid points about long-term changes needed since horsemeat.
It’s right that consumers need greater transparency and reassurances about product quality and provenance.
However, the approach to delivering this needs to be holistic and fully considered. We should not confuse any communications inaction with a pretence that horsemeat never happened.
If brands are to truly reassure consumers and change communications to benefit them, they need full transparency about what went wrong in the first place and how this can be addressed throughout the supply chain.
The first part of Professor Chris Elliott’s horsemeat report has identified recommendations for promoting authenticity and policing against fraud. It’d be effective to await the final report (due in Spring) and then look at how industry and government can agree and implement final recommendations based on research.
Additionally, we need to take into account existing quality standards designed to promote consumer confidence. How are these perceived by consumers and what place would they have in the future following the roll-out of recommendations?
This approach would promote consistency across the industry, leading to more meaningful and consumer-focussed communications.
It is right to champion changes following horsemeat, but equally important to be properly informed and to take an industry-wide approach. This way brands can then proactively and authentically engage consumers.
Andy Poole, Director, Weber Shandwick Manchester