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Meet the finalists: Supply Chain Excellence

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Next year's Food Manufacture Excellence Awards sees these supply chain savvy finalists going head to head
Next year's Food Manufacture Excellence Awards sees these supply chain savvy finalists going head to head

Related tags Sustainability Business Regulation Investment Equipment Hygiene

The Food Manufacture Excellence Awards have three finalists in the running for Supply Chain Excellence – but who will come out on top?

Authenticate IS and The Compleat Food Group

By using the Authenticate platform, The Compleat Food Group has revolutionised the way it manages risk, whilst increasing visibility and gathering actionable insights to protect people, the planet and brand reputation.

The collaborative, secure platform provides the technology to engage with and manage suppliers across all tiers, capable of mapping finished and raw products back to the source and monitoring suppliers to ensure compliance and measure environmental, social and governance risk from anywhere in the world.

Together, the companies have used the location report to, for example, identify where the suppliers are when there has been an outbreak of African Swine Flu (ongoing since August 2023) and the floods in Greece (storm Daniel on 14th September 2023). They have also identified a high risk through geo-mapping on the Authenticate platform, enabling Compleat to quickly identify suppliers in that region and take swift actions to remove them from the supply chain or find substitute alternatives.

Through this platform, Compleat has gained a comprehensive understanding of the supply chain and established strong relationships with suppliers based on trust and collaboration.

“We are continuously working on improving and expanding the data captured. This operation has functioned as a genuine collaborative partnership, and as trailblazers in this field, we firmly believe that TCFG [Compleat], together with Authenticate, is ahead of many other core suppliers in terms of their comprehension and utilisation,”​ the application stated. 

Pilgrim's UK

Pilgrim’s UK supports more than 1,000 British pig farmers producing higher welfare, organic, free range and Red Tractor standard pigs. The majority of its pig supply chain is made up from its own BQP farming operation, which consists of around 320 UK farms producing more than 1.5million pigs every year. In addition, it procures pigs from UK independent Red Tractor farmers to meet some of our customers’ specification requirements.

The business is also one of the leading British lamb processors, working with around 450 independent higher welfare farmers in Wales and England.

Pilgrim’s UK is built around two primary business units – fresh and added value – supported by a fully-integrated higher welfare agricultural operation. Fresh operations consist of three pig abattoir and butchery facilities and a fresh pork processing site.

In addition, the fresh business unit includes Pilgrim’s UK Lamb, a sub-division of the company with an abattoir in Wales and a processing facility in Andover.

Added value operations consist of six processing sites, specialising in bacon, gammon, sausage, cooked meats and snacking products, producing 43,000 tonnes of products per quarter.

In an industry where profit margins are extremely tight, Pilgrim’s application noted a need to share the load and create support packages to help pig farmers in their ‘hour of need’ and build their resilience against external shock factors.

A big piece of work in this realm began during Covid-19, where Pilgrim’s UK worked closely with its retail partners to establish new pig pricing models based on the cost of production. This was to ensure its farmers were paid a fair price for their animals, and to help them keep their businesses afloat as they continued to face into external headwinds like rising input costs.

“British pig farmers produce pork to high standards but cannot continue to do so at such a significant financial loss. This investment is a direct response to some of the most challenging conditions the pig sector has ever faced. This is not only the right thing to do, but it ensures we continue to pay our farmers a fair price while maintaining our quality and high welfare standards,”​ the application read.

This was highlighted by Pilgrim’s UK’s recently published Human Rights Impact Assessment, which demonstrated the positive benefits of a Cost of Production Model for pig farming, supported by its key partners Co-op and Waitrose.

With regards to sustainability, the company has set out a comprehensive initiative. The company now has the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per kilo of pork of any other UK producer. It has also reduced absolute scope 3 GHG emissions by 9.5% since 2019, among other notable milestones.

For safety, the business expects its suppliers to follow a Supplier Code of Conduct, which covers labour and human rights. The business risk assesses all its raw materials, ingredients and packaging suppliers before they are set up. All suppliers who employ over 30 people are required to be members of Sedex and link their sites to Pilgrim’s UK.

The company is also currently working to develop a “mystery shopper” programme to test all stages of the recruitment journey, working with a specialist contractor, one of its key labour agencies and the GLAA. This will be to test the robustness and effectiveness of the processes and procedures in place, designed to establish any red flags in relation to labour exploitation and potential cases of modern slavery.

The Collective Dairy

The Collective Dairy is known for its top tier fresh chilled live yoghurts.

As a small business, it outsources the majority of the end to end supply chain, enabling it to be very agile in launching new innovation and also leveraging the experience and scale of large contract manufacturing partnerships.

Everything is 100% made in the UK, across five factories based in Somerset, Yorkshire, Chester and North Wales. Its milk is 100% from Red Tractor assured farms in Great Britain and it sources more than 85% of all ingredients in the UK, including its oats used in its dairy free recipes. Even its packaging is as locally sourced as possible – from the UK, Belgium or Italy.

The Collective develop all recipes in its in-house dedicated development kitchen, with the team specifying everything about the source of ingredients, production processes, packaging and creating all the design and artwork.

Additionally, the company sources the raw materials and packaging, building relationships and negotiating contracts directly with tier 2 suppliers.

In many cases, The Collective has also designed and specified unique manufacturing equipment required to produce its finished products, pushing beyond current capabilities of its contract manufacturers to deliver innovation, speed, efficiency, quality and cost enhancements. One example is the completely segregated and dedicated dairy free factory which was built to ensure 100% dairy allergen free and to prevent any need for any alibi warnings.

From the network of raw material and packaging suppliers, through its manufacturers, the finished products are then distributed on to all major retailer depots across the country via third party chilled logistics. You can find its yoghurts on the shelves but also as an ingredient in cafés and restaurants.

Even before the last three years of turmoil, supply chain resilience had been top of mind at The Collective. For example, the business on shored production of finished products from France to the UK, significantly reducing risks associated with crossing borders with fresh products of animal origin post-Brexit.  

This created a competitive advantage for the company recently, gaining additional feature space in retailers because it could react quickly when other continental suppliers had issues with transportation or labour.

It set up a policy to use multiple manufacturing locations for the same product, which gave the business great resilience when one factory had an issue with packaging availability, but also the ability to double the business size with the additional capacity.

The company has also partnered with key suppliers, committing to long-term commercial relationships, working collaboratively on its long-term strategies, risks and future plans which enabled it to jointly prioritise the biggest opportunities and also mitigate for the biggest risks.

These stronger relationships have meant that when labour was in short supply during the height of the pandemic, the company gained priority over other customers, helping it guarantee a high level of service to its customers in very turbulent times.

With regards to sustainability, the business has commissioned a materiality assessment which helped to articulate what sustainability means to The Collective.

Working with the Carbon Trust value chain, the company has set a target to be carbon neutral for scope 1,2 and 3 by 2025 and introduced a range of projects to reduce its carbon intensity, which so far have helped to offset 3000T CO2E and reduced its carbon intensity by 8%.

The company has also set up its own in-house team of ‘wombles’, working with WRAP to understand how its packaging is treated in the recycling system. It has since removed all black plastic lids, launched 100% post-consumer and fully recyclable pots and is in the process of removing all virgin plastic pots and aluminium pouches.

With regards to safety, the company has gone to great lengths to ensure its products are genuine, safe and nutritionally accurate. A good example of this is the dairy-free factory which was designed and built from the ground up as an allergen free site. This facility has the processing capability to take dry and wet raw materials, create the ‘milk’, ferment the live dairy free cultures, and process and pack before being chilled in a dairy free warehouse. Even though there are no dairy ingredients in the recipe, or anywhere on site, at every stage, the raw ingredients are tested, the packaging and equipment is swabbed, the final product tested, and all confirmed to be dairy free before the company sold to any consumers.

“This complete separation and maniacal attention to detail does not come cheaply or quickly, but what we have now is one of the best facilities in Europe if not the world for making dairy free yoghurts in a safe and protected environment, something we are very proud of,”​ the application noted.

All winners will be announced at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2024, which will take place on Thursday 8 February at the London Hilton Bankside. Tickets are available to purchase, here.​​

Interested to see the entire shortlist of finalists for all 2024 categories? Click here.

The Food Manufacture Excellence Awards are proudly sponsored by our headliner Menzies, alongside event sponsors Quor, HSBC, and CAS Recruitment.

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