What’s the Beef?

Published: Feb 14 , 2013
Author: Alan Smith

Perhaps a better question might be, where's the beef?

The continuing furore about what actually is in our food took another turn when Findus had to withdraw all of their Frozen Beef Lasagne after it was discovered that the beef was actually horse.  Neigh I hear you cry.

This follows on from previous scares that major retail stores in the UK such as Tesco, Iceland and Aldi had similarly found horsemeat in their own label burgers. All of which had to be removed from sale, at massive cost and a PR nightmare.

Giles Coren in The Times put it best when he wrote about the lack of understanding about cheap food.  "What on earth did you think they put in them? Prime cuts of delicious free-range, organic, rare breed, heritage beef, grass-fed, Eton-educated, humanely slaughtered, dry-aged and hand-ground by fairies...? At a pound for 12?"

We do indeed get what we pay for.

It does highlight the difficulties faced when price and cost seem to be the only driver in any business relationship.

If we continually demand better prices, the race to the bottom may involve compromises that we in the end come to regret.

My favourite quote in this arena is attributed variously to one of the US astronaut's John Glenn or Alan Shepard.  Both were pilots immortalised in the movie The Right Stuff.

When asked how it felt to be sitting on top of the rocket about to launch, it is claimed one of them said "it's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realise that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract."

Difficult to bolt the stable door on this story now I suspect.

Alan Smith


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Alan Smith

About the author:

Alan Smith
My background is marketing and advertising. After graduating in Economics I entered the agency world to become, at 28, MD of London's largest independent below-the-line marketing provider.

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It’s amazing how many people go into negotiations with no clear idea about their bottom line. “We’ll see how it goes,” seems to be the rather naïve thought and of course they leave themselves open to the risk of a really poor and unprofitable deal at the end of it. It is empowering to know your bottom line, especially when you have internal agreement at senior level. Think about it: the other side are aggressively demanding that you improve your terms, but you know that what they are asking for is beyond your bottom line.

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