Step up to the plate and share efficiency

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Big food manufacturers should overcome worries about commercial sensitivity, said Read
Big food manufacturers should overcome worries about commercial sensitivity, said Read

Related tags Need Management

Major food manufacturers need to overcome concerns about commercial sensitivity and share with their supply chain partners and the wider industry how they have become more efficient in order to benefit the sector as a whole, according to a resource efficiency expert.

Too many of the major players who undertake resource efficiency programmes are unwilling to go public with their improvements because they are fearful of revealing that they weren't efficient in the first place, he said.

Adam Read, resource efficiency and waste management practice director at consultancy AEA-Ricardo, said the reticence of big firms to go public made it difficult for him, and organisations like the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and Zero Waste Scotland, to filter down to smaller and medium-sized firms (SMEs) how they can make similar changes.

Speaking in the wake of the launch of AEA-Ricardovs Resource Efficiency Guide, Read said: “There is a whole issue here where UK plc needs to step up and be happy to volunteer this stuff because it makes the message so much more powerful.

‘It is a big barrier’

“It is a big barrier … because you can’t showcase these people. You have to say ‘one company made these improvements’ but no-one knows who they are. If you turnaround and say it was one of the major players, that resonates so much more.

“Everybody always talks about things being commercially sensitive but, actually, there are an awful lot of good people in industry who would be willing, if they could, to open their doors and offer some advice to other businesses, especially in their supply chain.”

Read said the food manufacturing sector was a target audience for the guide, which aims to give firms a top-level view of the key questions they need to be asking themselves about raw material availability, resource management, supply chain practices and production methods.

‘The key’

With many of the big guns engaged in this type of work with WRAP and the Courtauld Commitment, the key, according to Read, was to couch these issues in terms SMEs could understand.

“So many people are commentating in this space but I’ve spent the past 20 years on sites with business and they talk about margin, business and supply, and that's what we need to drill down to,”​ he said.

“The whole debate needs to be about whether you can get the raw material needed and operate more efficiently, that is what is more important and what is resonating with industry.”

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