Q&A: Dan Crossley, Food Ethics Council

The Food Ethics Council’s executive director Dan Crossley talks about the importance of understanding your product as much as you can.

Dan Crossley, executive director, Food Ethics Council

Marketing Week (MW): Do marketers need to have more of an understanding of the supply chain to ensure marketing messages are correct?

Dan Crossley (DC): It’s not a marketer’s job to necessarily be an expert on all the technicalities of food safety and traceability. However, a good marketer is not just someone that can come up with catchy slogans, it is someone that understands as much about that product as they can. That includes asking challenging questions of their procurement and supply chain teams so that they can back up the authenticity of any claims made.

MW: Would understanding the supply chain influence the customer’s experience of the product? Is this something of real interest to people?

DC: Consumers’ eating experience would be hugely enhanced if they knew more about where products came from and how they are made. It would make them value the food they’re eating more and throw less away, which is a real issue in countries like the UK, where the average person still throws away around a quarter of the food they buy.

MW: How well do retailers know their suppliers – is this something that needs to be looked at?

DC: Retailers certainly need to know their suppliers better. That’s more than saying they need to be able to trace where every ingredient comes from. Retailers need to develop longer-term and more equitable relationships with their suppliers. Supermarket buyers should be on first-name terms with their suppliers. Retailers can’t rebuild trust with their customers until they’ve rebuilt trust with their suppliers.

MW: What is your view of supermarkets driving down the costs of food?

DC: Many of the supermarkets have redefined value as price. The horsemeat scandal has been caused at least in part by the drive to cut costs, so it’s almost inevitable that shortcuts were made. We need to move away from a culture of cheap food and start valuing food more. That might include paying more for it, therefore we also need to think about what mechanisms can be introduced to ensure good food is available to all.

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