Disruptions in the food supply chain are no doubt the ‘new normal’, whether that is labour shortages, wholesale energy prices, shortages of carbon dioxide (CO2), more friction with border documentation and checks, or supply chain restrictions related to Covid-19 and EU Exit. The conflict in the Ukraine has caused even greater concerns over food supply restrictions over the short to medium term.
Pressures on labour availability means that the practical, managerial and leadership skillsets, required across the food sector, vary from business to business being readily available in some sectors to being niche and in short supply in others. The economic, environmental and social challenges we have seen in the last two years are causing businesses to reconsider their reliance on people for tasks and decision-making and to turn to automation on manufacturing lines, and artificial intelligence and machine learning, to reduce their vulnerability to labour issues. These supply chain disruption issues singularly, or in combination, create multiple challenges that businesses need to address by embedding mitigation strategies in their business planning. This means that business approaches to risk identification, assessment and management need to be reviewed and revised as the world becomes a more uncertain place to do business.
As a result, business continuity planning has never been more important for all food businesses, from multinational corporations operating across the world, to micro food businesses developing food products and meeting the needs of local customers. Every food business has its unique continuity challenges, whether associated with particular food ingredients, packaging or materials, used in their processes, location, relationships with its supply chain or final market or consumer trends.
Horizon scanning is a systematic approach to considering evidence of particular trends, and then actual and potential scenarios, in order to determine whether an organisation is adequately prepared for established and emerging threats, has appropriate risk identification, assessment and management procedures in place and if suitable controls are implemented, can readily adopt adequate measures for threat elimination, mitigation or control. Pinch point mapping and analysis is one form of horizon scanning to determine business and supply chain vulnerability and measures to reduce such vulnerability.
Read IFST's guide to Pinch Point Mapping and Analysis