The meat crisis: a supply chain analysis.

Author:Ladki, Said

    The purpose of this paper is to report about a crisis in the Lebanese red meat industry. Specifically, the paper examines import, storage, distribution, handling and compliance with best business practices along with the Thankappan 2005 meat supply chain model. Scandals erupted in the Lebanese red meat buying market when one of the nation's largest wholesalers was accused of selling expired meat products. Fearing prosecution and public outrage, numerous unscrupulous wholesalers and suppliers have sent their expired meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products to regional landfills throughout the country. The scandal has outraged the country's various government Ministries (Agriculture, Trade, Health, and Tourism), consumer advocate groups, and seaport authorities which is the gateway of imported food products into Lebanese markets. Each blaming the other for failing to prevent the entry of expired meat products into the country. The Lebanese red meat scandal has created a vacuum in the market place. Consumers stopped buying red meat due to concerns about product safety and fitness for human consumption. The low red meat consumption along with the dumping of warehouse inventories acquainted industry stake holders, government agencies and the public with the major weakness confronting the Lebanese red meat supply chain system. The so-called supply system was disrupted, prices went down, warehouses were emptied, and consumer confidence rocked-bottom. Few weeks after the scandal, an upward trend in red beef consumption was reported. However warehouses were still empty and existing supply was not substantial enough to meet the demands. Prices sky rocked again, the absence of a large inventory of meat and a reliable supply chain system led to a consumer disaster in the Lebanese market place. Though, no human health related incident has been reported throughout the crisis, weaknesses were identified and action plans were drafted to prevent similar future scenarios. Currently, human health and food safety are witnessing increased global attention. Numerous dynamic systems focusing on efficient and effective health management delivery have been developed. Greater results of systems implementation are being achieved when systems are managed by specialized entities whose sole objective is to ensure human health. Food distribution is one of the health management systems which monitor the delivery of safe food in order to provide people with needed nutrients to grow and maintain healthy life. The USDA has created a food pyramid outlining human nutritional needs, where proteins occupy a major part (Anonymous, April 2005). Since protein is considered as the major source of nutrient needed to sustain human health, Lebanon's lack of a source of non-compromising quality products and a reliable supply chain system is no longer acceptable. The paper will shed light on the red meat supply chain systems and some of the best business practices that Lebanese meat importer should implement in order to maintain and protect product quality throughout the distribution channels.


    To reduce health hazards while creating innovative food delivery systems which foster value creation, many researches have written extensively on the importance of system co-ordination within the red meat distribution channels (Fearne, 2000 & 1998, Katz & Boland, 1999, Palmer, 1997, Hornibrook & Fearne, 2000 & 2001). Womack, Jones et al. (1990), defined value chain analysis as a "technique widely applied in the fields of operations management, process engineering and supply chain management, for the analysis and subsequent improvement of resource utilization and product flow within manufacturing processes".

    Lebanese meat importers have professional, legal, moral, and social obligations to import into the country the finest quality food products. However, currently seems this is not the case. Numerous importers are buying in the internal markets expired meat product or products whose quality has been compromised throughout the channels of distributions. To protect human health, government, and meat importers should answer variety of questions along the five following areas: Production, inventory control and handling, location, transportation, and information. If questions were addressed professionally, managers would be able to develop and implement a reliable and effective supply chain system.

    2.1 Production

    Where the cattle have been raised?

    What is the animal size and age at the time of slaughter?

    How cattle are processed Halal, Kosher, etc...?

    How long finished products are held before being sold to international exports at discount prices?

    Production stands for the companies' supply chain ability to manufacture and stock goods for further use. Production begins at the farm where concern for animal feed and breed is a priority; later on it is continued indoor at slaughter houses and beef processing facilities...

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