Case Detail

Case Summary

Horse Trading: Food Sourcing in the Twenty-First Century

Case Number: 5-216-250, Year Published: 2016

HBS Number: KEL945

Request PreviewBuy

Authors: Russell Walker; Joanna Wilson

Key Concepts

Crisis Management, Economics, International Business, Public Policy, Regulation, Reputations, Risk Management, Supply Chain Management


In January 2013, Irish authorities were the first to uncover the year's first food sourcing scandal: horsemeat sold as beef on supermarket shelves. It was not long before regulators and retailers realized the problem was truly a continental one. The incident involved French exporters, Luxembourger production facilities, Cypriot and Dutch meat traders, British and Swedish retailers, and Romanian horsemeat. Food service providers and retailers were forced to test beef products to ensure they were horse-free, pulling products that contained traces of equine meat. British supermarkets alone disposed of an estimated 10 million "beef" burgers in the wake of the scandal.

This case is an example of the challenges of managing the complex global supply chains that make up the modern food industry. In this class discussion, students will use concepts from management, economics, and public policy to assess the damage of this event and to analyze strategies for preventing similar incidents in the future.

Learning Objectives

After reading and analyzing the case, students will be better able to understand and identify global supply chain challenges, and analyze public policy proposals for solving business challenges using concepts from management and economics.

Number of Pages: 8

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Operations

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: Europe

Industry: Food supply

Year of Case: 2013