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Ideagen safety report reveals new challenges for food producers and retailers 

Ben Dorks (Ideagen CEO)

A REPORT released on UN World Food Safety Day (7 June 2023) by regulatory compliance company, Ideagen, has revealed new and emerging challenges that food producers and retailers say are impacting food safety and supply chains.

The Food Safety Audit Report 2023 brings together risks and concerns formally documented by a range of businesses from smaller operations to multinational corporations. It also compares the 2023 results to the same data from 2018, before COVID-19 and other geo-political events such as Brexit.

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It’s revealed a tenfold increase in organizations citing weather and climate as risks to their ability to operate, for larger businesses (with a revenue of more than £250M) environmental concerns jumped 13 places and weather rose 11 places. 

And while the manufacturers are paying more attention to food safety and quality than in 2018, food safety dropped out of the top ten biggest risks as financial concerns, Brexit and COVID-19 dominated the top 10.

Speaking about the report, Ideagen CEO, Ben Dorks, said: “Food producers and retailers are arguably navigating the most turbulent time in our recent history.

“Supply chain challenges, the war in Ukraine, the rising costs to operate and economic factors such as commodity inflation are naturally dominating their list of concerns.

“Food safety and supply chain integrity continues to be increasingly important, but the findings highlight that more needs to be done to support food producers to focus on what matters most to them – safe and efficient food supply – freed from those other geopolitical factors that are currently consuming so much of their energy.”

Other key findings from the report include:

  • New risks for 2023 revealed as COVID-19 and Brexit, with 61% and over half (52%) of businesses citing each as a concern respectively 
  • Highest-ranking risk factors are still largely finance related – commodity inflation, currency and credit remain in the top five 
  • Nearly a third (29%) cited supply chain issues as a risk, with mid-sized businesses (revenue between £100M-250M) seeing the biggest percentage increase. 
  • Climate and the environment are the biggest rising risks, with businesses of all sizes now including it in the risks and uncertainties statements of their annual report and accounts.

Weather-related threats to the supply chain came into sharp focus in Europe at the start of 2023 when unseasonable conditions in Morocco and Spain led to a shortage of tomatoes and peppers.

In February 2023 the US Department of Agriculture announced a $59m investment in the domestic food supply chain to release the financial pressures on the sector and in May the UK government held their first ever Food Summit at 10 Downing Street.

Ben added: “The fragility of food security globally is front and centre in the media and minds of the governments. We’d urge those making decisions to listen to the growers and food producers who understand their end-to-end supply chains and are adding these environmental factors into their risk registers. 

“While bringing costs down for consumers must be part of the agenda, it should not come with a compromise to food safety.”

Ideagen currently support 65% of the world’s most recognisable food and beverage brands with their quality and safety compliance, and in January strengthened their portfolio of solutions with the acquisition of supply-chain software company, Qadex.

Members of the public can download the full Food Safety Audit Report here.

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