How to take a risk-based approach to supply chain disruption

BY ROB GRIFFITHS  |  7 OCTOBER 2022

Unprecedented change demands an agile response. Analytical testing is a good place to start.

There’s no doubt that the global supply chain continues to be challenged like never before. We’re still living through the impact of Brexit, with new import and export documentation slowing the movement of goods in and out of Europe.

At the same time, repercussions stemming from the pandemic are affecting staffing levels and production. While extreme weather conditions and the impact of the war in Ukraine have had a devastating impact on some of the world’s major crops and therefore ingredients too.

 

And let’s not forget the wider economic picture. The soaring price of ingredients, fuel and energy is driving up production costs and creating greater uncertainty in the marketplace. Little wonder that the UK food inflation rate is at an all-time high and may even top current record levels later this year.

But that’s not all.


History tells us that when the food supply chain is under pressure, there’s greater risk of ingredient adulteration, counterfeit products and accidental product contamination. Premium products are particularly vulnerable and fraudsters are becoming ever more sophisticated in their methods. This is a major concern and adds another layer of complexity to an already difficult situation.


So how can you maintain food safety, quality and costs when everything is in a state of flux? Part of the answer lies in having robust analytical systems in place to help you identify and mitigate potential risks.


Let us explain.


Testing times


When a key ingredient is in short supply, you essentially have two possible options. Either source it from an existing supplier or work with a new one. In both cases, using targeted analysis to evaluate key aspects of the newly sourced ingredient is vital:

  • Verification of quality and specification
  • Functionality and effect on finished product
  • Potential contamination or adulteration
  • Impact on processing / manufacturing process
  • Stability and shelf-life
  • Allergen risk assessment.

 

And should you need to go with a new supplier, further analysis can help with the approval process of the operation as well as the ingredient in question; enabling you to identify potential risks and put measures in place to mitigate them as far as possible. 

Yet, in today’s strained climate, there’s a very real possibility that you may be forced to source an alternative ingredient. This will require a good understanding of how it will behave in the finished product. It may even involve product reformulation, which is likely to have implications for labelling, nutritional profile and shelf life. Again, targeted analytical testing can help you navigate these and other potential issues.

 

Get ahead of what’s next

Right now, there are few indications that the current situation will improve any time soon. With China resolutely sticking to its zero COVID policy, no end in sight for the conflict in Ukraine and a volatile financial and employment market, these supply chain problems look set to continue.


Operating in an environment where the only constant is change requires an agile supply chain plan; one that allows your business to pivot in the face of further disruption. So, ask yourself, do you have robust systems in place to protect product quality, safety and costs?

 

 

Interested in finding out more? Register for our on-demand webinar 'Food Supply Chain Resilience - Challenges & Opportunities'.

Click here to register.

 

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