The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) is driving forward its initiative to tackle inefficiencies in the frozen foodservice supply chain by bringing the key players together to thrash out their problems in the coming weeks.
This will complement research being commissioned by the BFFF into ways of reducing costs in the distribution leg between frozen food manufacturers and wholesalers (Food Manufacture, October 2005, p28).
BFFF director general Alf Carr said: "The process began late last year when we got manufacturers and wholesalers to meet separately to identify where they believed inefficiencies were caused in the supply chain.
"Manufacturers were complaining about how wholesalers were handling mixed pallets and how they calculated service levels. For example, when some companies measure service levels, they conflate 'on time' and 'in full' deliveries, which are two separate things. If something isn't on time, for example, it could be the fault of the manufacturer or the logistics provider, whereas if something isn't in full, that's the manufacturers' fault."
Errors also crept in when products were described in one way at a wholesaler's head office, according to what was on the price list, and in an entirely different way at the depot, he said. "Split pallets also cause big problems."
By contrast, wholesalers like Brakes and 3663 typically whinged about suppliers' late deliveries, poor outer case labelling and incorrect invoicing based on goods ordered, rather than what was actually received at depots, he said.
"We wrote to more than 100 manufacturers outlining where wholesalers felt the problems were in order to stimulate some debate." He added: "The next step is getting the two groups to meet later this month - at first separately, and then together, with me as the referee!"
This would enable both sides to develop collaborative solutions to supply chain problems instead of blaming each other for failures, he said. "The frozen foodservice supply chain is so complex, has so many players and end outlets, that by its very nature it is inefficient. Together, we can look for efficiencies."