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Russell Hume, one of the UK's leading specialist meat wholesalers to the foodservice sector, has been put into administration.  This follows the closure of its processing sites since late January, as a result of labelling compliance concerns identified by the Food Standards Agency.

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New research from GS1 UK suggests that UK suppliers could increase their sales by 3% if their data management was better.

Increasing sales by 3%

Barcode standards agency, GS1 UK, has published a new report that analyses the costs to manufacturers that stem from problems with product data. Drawing on research from Sweden, the report shows that data sharing suppliers were able to increase sales figures by 1-3%, whilst reducing the cost of sales by 5%. If the UK was to implement similar practices and share high quality data across the supply chain, there could be an industry benefit of between £17bn and £21bn.

Standardising to create efficiency

GS1 hopes to make this possible through its productDNA:hub initiative, an independent and consistent method of sharing product data for suppliers and retailers. ProductDNA:hub covers over 150 product attributes, including ingredients, weight, dimensions, nutritional values and allergen information. Brands and suppliers own the data, and retailers have easy access to the information, ensuring that shoppers can receive accurate and up to date information about their products.

Combatting inconsistent data

Jim Dickson, Head of Retail at GS1 UK, commented: “The UK’s grocery sector clearly has a massive problem with product data. Previous research from GS1 UK has shown that 80% of product content is inconsistent. It’s costing the entire industry dearly in terms of cash, in terms of lost sales, and even in terms of the fees suppliers are currently paying for existing product data and image management. But there are other costs, too – delivery delays can do quick and lasting damage to a company’s reputation with customers and we’ve come across on-time deliveries increasing by 3% with the adoption of better data sharing solutions in different territories.

“This is why GS1 UK has been working with grocery retailers and suppliers to create an industry standard for the management of product information and images. The industry group has specified and launched a new service, productDNA:hub, which providers a single catalogue of high quality, independently verified product information. It will allow suppliers to accurately state the sugar percentage of their products so that consumers can make more confident buying decisions. It grasps the grocery industry’s product data nettle.”

IGD and WRAP recently published their new package of resources for food companies to improve food waste measurement. Alan Hayes explains more about the collaboration.

Progress on measuring food waste

Food waste measurement isn’t standardised, with different sectors and companies using different approaches. This makes benchmarking very difficult. Only a handful of companies report on their food waste, the majority who report on waste do so through aggregated data.

Last year, IGD brought companies from across the entire food chain together to discuss this issue, in collaboration with WRAP (the food waste experts). The aim was to agree a set of principles and common definitions which the whole of industry could adopt. This would help put food waste measurement on a more consistent footing.

Those taking part shared their intent to use consistent definitions of food waste. However, complex processes and operations can result in different interpretations of these definitions.

Barriers to success

Only some businesses have granular waste data:

  • Growers have weight data by crop and location
  • Food manufacturers have mainly financial data, with the more sophisticated having accurate weight data as part of operational performance
  • Retailers face the challenges of separating packaging from food, and food from other waste streams such as coffee and flowers

The Food Loss & Waste Standard (FLWS, an internationally agreed method of accounting for food waste) allows waste destined for animal feed to be counted as waste by some organisations and not by others. Similarly, FLWS does not mandate a food waste hierarchy or compliance with any waste hierarchy.

Complex manufacturing operations and complex supply chains, combined with a lack of accurate waste composition data, result in the use of diverse methods – from measurement at individual item level to the use of nominal weights. These are significant barriers when seeking to benchmark internal vs external performance.

Outcomes of discussions

The first outcome of the 2017 discussions was an agreed set of principles for food waste measurement, a significant achievement for the UK food industry. These principles have been adopted by all members of the IGD Policy Issues Council, a forum of industry leaders that debates the challenges facing the food and grocery industry.

IGD and WRAP also ensured that this work was aligned with international initiatives, namely Champions 12.3 (set up to help deliver Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 about halving food loss and waste) and the FLWS.

The second outcome is the collaborative development of a set of signposted principles and resources that IGD and WRAP have now published. This gives businesses of all sizes some tools to ensure their measurement of food waste improves. Through better measurement, we can all create better targets and more focused action plans.

Source: Food Waste Measurement Principles And Resources Guide, WRAP/IGD, Jan 2018

Looking to the future

In 2018, we plan to develop roadmaps to implement these principles in each of the major food supply chain sectors: retail, manufacturing, primary production, hospitality & foodservice.

The roadmaps will identify how to overcome barriers and implement a common approach that’s based on principles and definitions. This will enable more consistency and benchmarking within each sector and across the industry.

My colleague at WRAP, Peter Maddox, recently wrote a blog to introduce the resources. We would love you to share either of these blogs more widely with your networks, to spread the food waste reduction message. Please tag us on LinkedIn or Twitter if you do share, and keep a look out for more updates on this vitally important topic.

Which trends are currently shining brightest and which are still gathering the energy needed to burst into life? Download and share our new infographic highlighting the trends transforming our supply chains.

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the IoT opportunity

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This report highlights four key supply chain trends that will emerge and develop in 2018. It also assesses how the trends IGD identified at the beginning of last year are impacting the supply chain today.
This is the third and final report in IGD’s Re-linking the Supply Chain series, focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT) in the supply chain. This report presents a roadmap for IoT development, detailing twelve steps to success that will help you move from idea to implementation.
Extend your knowledge of supply chain distribution models in our latest supply chain fundamentals report. Find out how different distribution networks balance cost and service as businesses work to meet and exceed customer expectations.

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