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As a result, Sedgwick’s latest Recall Index reached the market at a critical juncture, providing an essential reference for manufacturers and retailers seeking an objective and timely perspective on past, present and future recall data and product safety trends. The European ‘State of the Nation 2022’ brand protection report offered readers a year-in-review look at recall data and trends from 2021 and early 2022.

Discussing the report in a recent webinar, Chris Occleshaw, product recall consultant, international at Sedgwick Brand Protection highlighted that its findings are sourced from safety regulators, government resources, and research and interviews conducted with the firm’s strategic partners – which include insurers, law firms and communication companies.

“There is value in analysing recall detail from the previous quarter,” he said. “However, a core purpose of the Recall Index is to go a little bit further and help you plan for changes that may impact your business or firm, or potentially present risks to you as a brand. As part of our index, we get insights from our partners who are normally from legal or regulatory backgrounds, and we leverage their expertise to try and predict what’s around the corner, what’s looming on the horizon, what can learn and what steps can companies take to actively mitigate some of these risks.”

The report highlighted that Brexit and COVID-19 were the two most notable disruptions which impacted the UK and EU markets in 2021. Significant supply chain challenges have resulted from both of these, with businesses forced to adjust what would have been normal operations two years ago – and the supply chain has yet to recover from this immense disruption.

“Recalls were up in every industry in 2021, with the exception of toys, which saw a 28% decline in events compared to 2020,” Sedgwick’s report found. “The toy industry did however see the expected spike in the fourth quarter, which accounted for 38% of all recalls for the year. The pharmaceutical industry saw the biggest jump with 372 recalls, a 48% increase over 2020. Electronics experienced a 45% year-over-year increase in product recalls. While clothing saw a 25% increase, children’s sweatshirts alone experienced a 200% increase from the year previous.”

As outlined in Sedgwick’s cross-market survey, there are sweeping changes ahead for all industries. In many cases, regulators are working to update laws written 20 years ago, before the widespread adoption of online marketplaces and connected devices. The report revealed that while the goal of these changes is to protect consumers, and sometimes the environment, these updates can cause challenges for businesses that may need to make significant adjustments to their business processes to comply with new regulations.

Read more: Sedgwick unveils European product recall index for Q2 2021

In terms of where the product recall landscape goes next, Sedgwick highlighted that the ongoing global health crisis that is COVID-19 means continued uncertainty in terms of supply chains, normal business operations and regulatory oversight.

“Regulators in the UK and EU are looking at updates to old legislation across several industries to reflect risk to consumers from technologies that were not in use when the regulations were written,” the firm stated. “This includes threats from the technology itself – such as data being hacked from connected devices. It also means technology shifts in how goods are sourced and purchased thanks to online shopping.”

The team at Sedgwick emphasised that while it is impossible to know all the longer-term impacts of these regulatory changes, it is evident that firms need to plan for risks across a variety of areas, including:

  • Business interruptions
  • Supply chain challenges
  • Regulatory and legislative changes
  • Financial impacts
  • Product updates, upgrades, and warranty work
  • Product recalls and market withdrawals
  • Data, privacy, and cybersecurity issues
  • Innovation and advancements in technology
  • Constantly shifting consumer demand
  • Customer and partner apprehension

“While no one wants to admit that they will face a product recall,” Sedgwick said, “if plans to mitigate such instances are tested and updated – and become as routine as other business processes – then when the inevitable occurs, both your brand and bottom-line will remain protected.

“Working with an expert partner to leverage their experience and insights can help deliver significant saving in regulatory and litigation costs, as well as time and internal resources. In addition, their expertise will help you honour your commitments to customers, supply chain partners, industry groups, and regulators, while protecting your reputation among the stakeholders that matter most.”


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