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London, 28 February 2017Gallagher highlights key takeaways from City Food Lecture 2017

Gallagher highlights key takeaways from City Food Lecture 2017

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As sponsor of the City Food Lecture 2017, Arthur J. Gallagher has pinpointed three key takeaways from this year’s prestigious event — the need to get back to basics and grow more of our own food, restore trust and simplify complex global supply chains.

The keynote speech was prepared by Professor Chris Elliott, founder of the Institute for Global Food Security and chair of Food Safety and Microbiology at Queen’s University Belfast, and delivered by Michael Bell, executive director of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association.

Tackling the question: ‘Does it matter where our food comes from?’, the speech focused broadly upon the significance of where food is grown or produced, the type of agriculture systems employed and the need to reconnect with our food system which Professor Elliott stated should be considered a national imperative.

Garry Moseley, who leads Gallagher’s specialist Food & Drink team within the company’s Major Risks Practice, said: “Professor Elliott’s insightful speech highlighted three fundamental challenges:

  • To get back to basics and grow more of our own food; 
  • To reconnect with our food system and restore trust; 
  • To simplify and strengthen complex global supply chains, removing multiple steps from food production to consumption.

“Implementing measures to tackle each of these challenges is vital to improve food security and, as one of the leading insurance brokerage and risk management companies in the food and drink sector, it was particularly interesting to listen to Professor Elliott’s thoughts regarding food prices, regulation and the need for our agriculture industry to compete on a level playing field.

“It was also interesting to see the link between the UK’s growing dependency on importing food and the increasing threat from organised criminal networks illustrated so clearly.

“Overlaying a map of the so-called bread baskets of the world – the countries from which we source a large amount of our food – with a map of global slavery, Professor Elliott commented upon the inescapable conclusion that the potential for organised crime and slavery in the food industry was significant.

“While the Professor’s speech noted that there is not currently evidence of large scale organised crime in the UK food system, the highly complex global supply chains which are now the norm, mean UK firms which use overseas suppliers are vulnerable to abuses such as child slavery.”

Only a year ago Nestlé – the world’s largest food maker – was commended for disclosing it had found forced labour in its supply chain and publishing its action plan to tackle such unacceptable practices, while commenting that no company sourcing seafood ingredients from Thailand can completely avoid the same risks*.

Garry Moseley continued: “The financial and legal risk such a situation poses is huge and while reputational damage may be more difficult to quantify, the effects are likely to be highly damaging and long lasting.

“Insurance is not a panacea but specific reputational damage-related solutions to provide for things such as the costs of consultancy services and media management support are available and could make all the difference.

“Indeed workers’ rights and other issues such as animal welfare and food safety which Professor Elliott noted must be balanced with the need to keep food readily available and affordable, are all topics which Arthur J. Gallagher regularly engages clients on, to ensure their businesses are alert to the risks.”

The lecture was followed by a panel debate chaired by businesswoman Margaret Mountford and featuring LEAF chief executive Caroline Drummond, writer and broadcaster Tim Hayward and Tesco group quality director Tim Smith.

Garry Moseley added: “We were delighted to sponsor this year’s event which brought together some of the world’s most highly respected food industry leaders to openly debate not only the emerging risks facing the global food industry, but the UK-specific challenges flowing from that.”

* http://www.nestle.com/ask-nestle/human-rights/answers/nestle-forced-labour-supply-chains

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