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Food industry faces increased social media risk

By Rod Addy+

06-Nov-2014
Last updated on 06-Nov-2014 at 11:46 GMT2014-11-06T11:46:24Z

Nearly half of food industry firms surveyed lacked a policy to exploit social media
Nearly half of food industry firms surveyed lacked a policy to exploit social media

Food companies face increased risks from social media because they still do not have developed policies for tools such as Twitter and Facebook, according to the law firm Roythornes.

The law firm’s latest Social Media at Work Survey revealed that seven in 10 businesses had some form of social media presence, but 43% had no policy on how to use it.

Members of the Fresh Produce Consortium, The Food and Drink Forum, the British Frozen Food Federation, the Artisan Food Trail and Tastes of Anglia were canvassed for the survey.

According to the research, more than three in 10 food businesses did not monitor their online presence.

In addition, the number of firms allowing staff to bring their own smart devices to the workplace rose from 43% in 2012 to 54% this year.

Controls

That had coincided with a slight increase in the number of companies introducing controls over what employees can do on social media channels while in the workplace, Roythornes reported.

However, it said nearly two thirds of businesses admitted to still having no controls in place.

“The statistics are a little surprising given recent high profile incidents involving social media,” said Peter Bennett, head of Roythornes’ food and drink team.

“The ‘overheard in Waitrose’ Facebook page and the Twitter debacle surrounding Sainsbury’s 50p challenge poster are examples of how social media can pose serious problems for the food industry.

Reputational damage

“While both retailers responded quickly and appropriately, these cases evidence a real risk of reputational damage. Food businesses are well advised to take notice and implement policies and practices to deal with such an occurrence.”

He warned: “We have stated for the last two years and continue to stress that without policies, rules and practices in place, the use of social media in the workplace will continue unmonitored and the consequences could be dire.

“Those that have not implemented a policy or are not monitoring their online presence need to consider doing so, as the popularity of social media and the expanding number of channels means that robust, wider reaching policies are now needed.” 

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