Do you want to know where that burger really came from?

The European Commission is looking into a new labeling system for food products that clearly shows consumers each stage of the supply chain for that product. This is hoped to eliminate the use of the term ‘local’ for produce that has mainly been handled or produced away from the claimed place of origin by encouraging and identifying ‘short supply chains’.A number of scandals have brought the issue of the food industry supply chain and its transparency into the limelight recently, and this is one of the first important steps at an international governance level to tackle the issue. It has come about due to recent reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy.

The idea of ‘short food chains’ is being driven from the bottom up according to the Commission, with innovative farmers and community groups leading the change in culture when it comes to the production, and distribution of food stuffs.

Across the EU there are over 11m small farmers who the Commission wants to help sell their produce directly – cutting out the middle man to increase profit and shortening the supply chain to boost consumer confidence and the product’s sustainability.

The scheme isn’t simply about locality; it is about reducing the number of links in the supply chain. Hypothetically meaning that a global web based business can also form part of a sustainable and short supply chain. The main message of the campaign is transparency, so that the consumer is fully aware of the lifecycle and journey the product has taken before reaching the plate.

A full report on the proposed scheme is due in January 2014 which will also look at the challenges , including how small outlets could market their own produce effectively in house whilst keeping costs low, and will provide more detail on what the label may look like.

A number of catering companies have already started to look into supply chain efficiencies, including Del-Monte, Compass Group, Momentum and 3663.

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