UK food manufacturers will not be issued with US-style mandates from Asda or Tesco demanding they label cases with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, the firms' IT bosses pledged.
Contrary to reports, RFID pilots planned by Asda would only involve tags on roll cages and other returnable assets moving between its depots and stores, said John Beever, systems manager at Asda.
"Trials in the UK will not be on cases and we are absolutely not asking suppliers to do anything at this stage."
With the exception of a pilot with Robert Wiseman Dairies, Tesco's RFID trials were also focused purely on its internal supply chain, said the retailer's group IT director Colin Cobain.
"We're starting a trial in July to read tags on roll cages as they are loaded on to trucks leaving one of our depots. We'll then read them again when the trucks arrive at stores." The system will work by alerting staff when the wrong roll cages are loaded on to trucks or unloaded into store backrooms.
As the RFID readers will be connected to Tesco's store inventory system, alerts will also be prompted when cages arrive with items that are almost out of stock. Cages will then be wheeled straight on to the shopfloor.
The same system had helped Robert Wiseman optimise deliveries of milk to Tesco stores, said ADT, which has supplied thousands of RFID readers to Tesco.
"As trucks leave Wiseman, an electronic advanced shipping note (ASN) is sent to the Tesco stores expecting deliveries. When the truck arrives and tags on the milk cages are read, the system checks them against the ASN to see that the two correspond."