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Horse Trading: Food Sourcing in the Twenty-First Century


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.




Russell Walker, Wilson Joanna

Date Published



Walker, Russell, and Wilson Joanna. Horse Trading: Food Sourcing in the Twenty-First Century. Case 5-216-250 (KEL945).


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