At Crisis Solutions, we work with supermarket chains and government food agencies both in England and Scotland to prepare them for food incidents crises by using techniques including crisis simulations and crisis exercises.
This sector expertise affords us a unique insight into how food incidents play out and the best methods for ameliorating their impacts.
Food incidents – the horsemeat scandal
When in 2013, horsemeat was found in meat products sold in supermarkets it was huge news. The scandal emerged when Irish food inspectors discovered horsemeat in frozen beef burgers sold by Tesco, Iceland and Lidl. The sales of frozen burgers and other products plunged.
In general, consumers don’t buy products they don’t trust and this is overwhelmingly true when it comes to a food incident.
To combat the horsemeat scandal, many retailers applied effective crisis management strategies. One of the most innovative approaches came from Tesco, which created a food news website to try to allay public fears after horsemeat was found in some of their own brand products.
Tesco Food News sought to demystify ‘the food chain’ at the same time as reassuring the public with slogans like ‘We’ll bring food closer to home’. The seriousness of Tesco’s reputation management efforts can be gauged by the fact that the website launch was announced by the Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke.
It is important to recognise that it wasn’t just brands negatively affected by the horsemeat scandal that put out statements to the media. While it was a crisis for many, it was an opportunity for others to let the public know they were not affected and enabled them to increase business.
At the time, Morrisons documented an 18% rise in counter sales of fresh meat from their in-store butchers. The supermarket chain capitalised on its use of real butchers and 100% British meat to gain shopper confidence.
Product recalls, whether food related or not, present a unique challenge and effective management is vital. Read more about product recall crisis management.
How we can help you manage your reputation
At Crisis Solutions we teach skills and techniques that can sustain your reputation during the most testing times of food incidents. We do this through crisis simulations and crisis exercises, as well as training and advice on the preparation of crisis and business continuity plans.
We also provide media training that will help you deliver timely and consistent messages that are in touch with the public mood.
Crisis response is fundamentally about actions and communications. We teach both.