Corporate Eye

Stewardship and the Supply Chain


The Chief Executive of Tesco, Philip Clarke is on a mission to reinvent the supermarket experience. The ambitious venture comes after Tesco was rocked, like many supermarkets around Britain, by the horse-meat scandal.

In response to the wave of criticism Tesco have been doing its best to clean up their image. And as part of this damage limitation exercise, Tesco have used their website to great effect. Through a video and a blog the CEO Philip Clarke has articulated a message of genuine remorse and made very real pledges to right the wrong.

At the core of all of this has been Tesco’s vow that they have a “responsibility to lead on the issue.”

And a clear lead they have taken. Through the video and blog we have seen that the Tesco response to the horse-meat debacle has been threefold.

tesco-horsemeatFirstly, the supermarket chain has gone back to the drawing board and completely redrawn how the food supply chain should be managed. CEO, Philip Clarke has said that Tesco will go right back up the supplier chain to re-establish trust and ensure visibility and transparency. As part of this drive Tesco will also create a world class traceability and DNA testing system.

Secondly, Tesco have pledged to create a new website that will give real meaning to the first pledge to guarantee trust and transparency throughout the supply chain. The goal is to take Tesco website users right into the farm and factories and up close and personal with farmers and factory workers.

By giving customers a window into the supply chain process Tesco has set off into virgin territory. The idea is both exciting and revolutionary and really sets a new water mark for the supermarket industry.

Thirdly, Tesco has promised that if they ever have to remove products again they will ensure that there will be suitable substitute products available at no extra cost.

These have been difficult times for everyone involved in the food industry. Not just Tesco. Mistakes were made and regulatory gaps were exploited. And so lessons must be learnt and changes must be made.

To bring about change, the food industry needs one thing: leadership. And that’s where Tesco has come in. By taking a robust and imaginative lead, Tesco has reimagined the way that food goes from the farm gate to plate, and demonstrated stewardship.

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Brian Spencer

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