“Lettucegate”… When Supply Chains Go Wrong

Published on 22/05/2015 by David Stokes.

The idea was for the Phoenix ESU To play another of our infamous Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Games on Thursday 21st May. This time the Explorer Scouts were given roles as families, retailers (shop keepers), wholesalers, distributors or producers (farmers), all part of a complex food supply chain ranging from the dinner table to the far reaches of Europe.

IMG_20150521_195122The idea was for families to purchase a simple meal (a cheese salad with potatoes, lettuce and tomato and strawberries & cream). Although the idea of tracking food miles and CO2 emissions through the supply chain seemed to work (we did get some sensible results showing the result of ‘green’ or cost-conscious purchasing decisions), the topic of profit seemed to take over.

As a result of ‘Lettucegate’ (where one ‘distributor’ bought all the lettuce, creating a green leafed monopoly and vastly inflating the price to downstream wholesalers), a meal that cost 57 ‘Grobs’ to produce ended up costing poor families over half a million Grobs to purchase. While producers were making profits of thousands of Grobs, one wholesaler made profits of more that 18,000,000 Grobs!

IMG_20150521_195620As usual it was a great laugh with a serious message, with a wrap up discussion at the end of the game raising some interesting points on the environmental auditing of food chains, economic policy and regulating the prices of basic foodstuffs in a free market.

This was all part of the ‘Global’ programme (part of the refreshed Explorer Scout programme) and counts towards the ‘Environment’ section of the Explorer Scouts Chief Scout’s Awards.IMG_20150521_202054