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Morrisons is increasing investment in its wonky veg offer with a raft of new pledges designed to boost its popularity and address shoppers' concerns about food waste on farms.

50% increase in seasonal range

At the heart of its 'Wonky Veg Promises' is a pledge to expand Morrisons seasonal range by 50% to 33 lines, with the inclusion of new lines such as chillies and kiwis. The UK's fourth largest retailer will also launch its first frozen wonky product, a 1kg wonky berry mix and will sell wonky versions of exotic fruit and veg such as avocado. This latest expansion of the range comes just three years after it launched with only four products.

Opportunities for suppliers

To offer a wider seasonal variety of naturally wonky products, Morrisons will source its range from nearly 500 British and overseas farmers. Morrisons will also increase the number of farms where it buys the ‘whole crop’ (and not just a portion of it) to nearly 300 by 2019. 

Reducing food waste motivates shoppers

Commenting on the initiative, Drew Kirk, Fruit and Veg Director at Morrisons said: “We have listened to customers who have told us they want to be given every opportunity to reduce food waste. So we’re providing a much bigger choice of naturally wonky or blemished products - so everyone can be involved in reducing waste and afford to eat more healthily.”

Head of Supply Chain Insight, Alistair Balderson, considers how leapfrog technologies can pave the way for transformational change.

Winning in innovation

Last week, Morrisons and Blue Yonder were announced as the winners of our 2017 Supply Chain Innovation award. Their entry was for a new automated forecasting and replenishment system, which is transforming Morrisons’ approach to on-shelf availability.
This new system replaced a traditional method of in-store teams placing time-consuming manual orders, fraught with inconsistencies. Morrisons is now implementing an advanced data-led solution from Blue Yonder which incorporates cutting-edge artificial intelligence. This makes use of advanced machine learning algorithms – the more data it processes, the more intelligent it becomes. Morrisons’ intention is to leapfrog from behind its peers to leading the way.

Disruptive technologies

The concept of leapfrogging is a driving force in today’s economy. It creates disruptive forces that can move a radical new concept into the mainstream space in what seems like no time, making intervening technologies redundant just as quickly. Sometimes this happens in a planned way, as Morrisons and Blue Yonder are aiming for with their new system. The alternative is more accidental, when technology leapfrogs ahead because users find a way to exploit the innovation in an unexpected or unplanned way. An example of this is M-Pesa, a form of mobile money originating in Kenya which has challenged traditional banking and cash systems which were not serving the needs of a rural population with little access to the formal economy.

In supply chain, there are many innovations with the potential to disrupt. We’ve recently published reports on Supply Chain Analysis exploring two such areas: Blockchain and the Internet of Things. Both are available on the Transformed by Technology hub.

The challenge

But these new technologies present a big challenge to many established businesses. Perhaps you’ve invested a great deal of time and money over recent years to install and improve your current systems and equipment. Maybe the benefits of the new technology you’re looking at aren’t fully clear, making the payback analysis challenging. Should you minimise risk, retrofitting some small upgrades into your existing technology, or go all out and fully replace today’s kit with something new?

There are two key lessons that I take from the award-winning Morrisons and Blue Yonder case study which will help decision making, along with a final thought.

  • If you’re already behind your peers, don’t invest just to catch up. You need to get ahead and create a competitive advantage.
  • Technology is moving and changing quickly. Consider whether you can build up experience quickly enough, or whether you need to collaborate to get the benefits.

Finally, don’t forget that the world around you isn’t standing still and there will be plenty of others coming up behind to leapfrog you. The benefits of many of these innovations cannot be known in advance, because they only come from using it and making new connections.

Alistair Balderson
Head of Supply Chain Insight

Thought of the week: Alex looks at the recent trend of supply chain collaborations.

After seeing many major announcements over the past few weeks, from Morrisons and McColl’s agreeing a major supply chain partnership to Walmart and developing their strategic relationship, it seems that collaboration really is as popular as ever, so I thought I’d check for myself. After reviewing our last 50 news stories on Supply Chain Analysis, I found that 38% mentioned either ‘collaboration’ or ‘partnership’ within them. As the industry becomes tougher, and the low hanging fruit seemingly gone, it seems like businesses are now increasingly open to collaborative opportunities in order to unlock breakthrough change.

What areas of your business are open to collaboration?

To continue the discussion, check out our annual Supply Chain Summit, Thursday 9th November 2017.


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