Marks & Spencer is reviewing its use of radio frequency identification (RFID) systems after having completed the replacement of its 3m food trays with trays with integral RFID tags.
"Everything is under review," said the company, which in mid-July unveiled a new strategy for all its operations, including non-food business. It has been putting pressure on food and drink producers as part of a plan to cut payments to all its suppliers, including to non-food firms, by £120m in 2005/06 and £140m in 2006/07.
The chief executive Stuart Rose also said that the company would cut its supply chain costs by £15 m in 2005/06 and £35m in the following year.
Food producers supplying Marks & Spencer have invested heavily in their own RFID systems to work with the tags on the retailer's trays. One supplier, Worldwide Fruit, estimated RFID installations at about £80,000 a factory. Marks & Spencer has itself paid for its trays, which it needed to replace anyway.
RFID promoters suggest that the technology can save supermarkets large sums. Tesco has, however, added a short delay to its introduction of RFID because of concern about the lack of common European standards for the systems (Food Manufacture July 2004, p4).