Comment and opinion

Find out what’s on the minds of the supply chain team.

07 July 2020
The warehousing space has been undergoing substantial technological development in recent years. This is the upshot of rising demand for distribution space, which has been partly amplified by the current COVID-19 pandemic. There are a few drivers of exploration:   Potential long-term financial savings A declining labour pool The need to increase efficiencies However, the adopt...
24 June 2020
COVID-19 has caused a monumental shift in consumers’ food and drink habits. Our new Eating In Vs Dining Out report, produced in collaboration with foodservice consultant Peter Backman, explores the impact of COVID-19 on the UK food and drink market and outlines four scenarios for the future. During the pandemic, the boundaries between eating at home and out-of-home, already blurred, have b...
16 June 2020
We recently published the first report in IGD’s new benchmarking series , presenting the results of our Supply Chain Performance Measurement survey. The survey attracted responses from 225 supply chain professionals around the world, from a range of supply chain functions that cover the entire supply chain, including demand planning, procurement, transport, operations, customer development, ...
09 April 2020
We recently wrote about some ways that supply chains have shown flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic .  Similarly, this article looks at supply chain flexibility but with a focus on resource optimisation. Human resource sharing arrangements While the use of automation in supply chains is becoming more widespread, supply chain operations remain largely dependent upon human labour. The C...
03 April 2020
This article looks at three ways supply chains have been flexible in overcoming some of the challenges that COVID-19 has introduced. 1.    Relaxing of legislation and regulation We have seen governments around the world temporarily relax legislation to increase the velocity of essential supplies (food and health-related items) through the supply chain. One of the first areas of legislati...
19 March 2020
The impact the COVID-19 outbreak is having is unprecedented, with retailers and manufacturers around the world dealing with a sudden sharp increase in demand for goods. We know retailers are highly effective at dealing with significant changes in trade when given time to plan. However, time is a luxury the current situation has not afforded, and this is reflected in what’s being seen at the sh...
10 March 2020
How resilient and responsive is your supply chain?  If you didn’t know before, there’s a chance you will soon find out. There’s been a lot of talk about risk management with regards to Brexit, which seemed like enough of a challenge.  But now many nations around the world are facing the possibility of a COVID-19 (commonly referred to as coronavirus) epidemic, an event that, unlike Brexit, coul...
03 March 2020
There are many constants in supply chain – forecasts, inventory and service, among others, are all embedded within the DNA of any effective supply chain. But the world around us continues to evolve and supply chain is an increasingly important part of the wider business response to forces acting on the food and consumer goods industry. In this piece, I explore insight from recent IGD research int...
05 February 2020
This blog highlights the need for businesses to take a holistic view of environmental sustainability that goes beyond the role of plastic packaging. Businesses are facing intense pressure to act fast to reduce the amount of plastic used in the products they make and sell. Consumers’ demand for action continues to grow, driven by concerns about the environment and, in particular, the negative...
20 January 2020
At the beginning of each year, we identify the trends we expect to be most influential in shaping food and grocery supply chains over the next twelve months, helping you to prepare for change.  It’s difficult to select just a few trends, as there is constant development in supply chains, so we have identified a selection of trends that we think are developing most rapidly.  It is interesting t...
13 January 2020
I originally published this blog last year, but it's as relevant now as it was then.  Take a look... The start of each new year provides us with a fantastic opportunity to assess where we are and what we want to achieve in the year to come. It’s a time for locking down objectives and plotting a course to deliver them. While much of the focus is on how to do bigger and better things, a go...
10 January 2020
This is the second part of a two-part blog looking into innovation in fresh produce supply chains.  The first part focused on the downstream supply chain, exploring how vertical farming is being used within retail stores to compress supply chains and how innovative preservation techniques can extend shelf-life to reduce the risk of product deterioration and waste.  In this part, we move upstr...
09 January 2020
This is the fourth and final blog in a series in which we look at how the supply chain trends we identified for 2019 have panned out. In this instance, I’ll be taking a look at Clarity on circularity . Across the last few years, we’ve witnessed a significant surge in interest with regards to circular economies. Being sustainable is no longer a PR exercise, but an essential step that brings ...
23 December 2019
Fresh produce supply chains are notoriously difficult to manage, facing unique challenges that are not always present in the supply chains of other goods. The challenges begin in the field, with production yields and quality dependent upon factors beyond human control, such as weather.  Difficulties continue as the product moves downstream, with fresh produce being prone to deterioration and...
17 December 2019
This is the third blog in a series in which we review how the supply chain trends we identified for 2019 have played out. This week, I’ll be looking at Micro-fulfilment on a macro scale . Today’s fast-moving retail environment prompts grocers to be proactive in order to stay ahead of competitors and meet consumers’ soaring expectations. One way retailers have tackled this is through a relat...
11 December 2019
In response to intense competition, where consumers are demanding more for less, several retailers have decided to streamline operations and reduce operating costs. One approach to support these objectives is to vertically integrate aspects of the supply chain. What’s vertical integration? Vertical integration is a strategic decision that sees a business take ownership of part, or the ent...
20 November 2019
This is the second blog in a series in which we review how the supply chain trends we identified at the start of the year have played out. This week, I’ll be looking at Capitalising on connections . Technology is now a top priority, and rightly so. Today’s competitive grocery market leaves no room for inefficiencies, and that’s where technology comes into play. Previously, we’ve identifi...
12 November 2019
At the start of the year, we called out four trends we expect to influence supply chains in 2019. The time has come to begin reviewing how the trends played out and we’ll do this in a series of blogs over the next few weeks. This week, I’ll be looking at Eager experimenters – this is all about businesses of all sizes establishing and embedding a self-disruptive supply chain culture, underpinn...
29 October 2019
Automated micro-fulfillment has emerged as one of the key trends in the US grocery ecommerce channel. We recently visited a site with Takeoff Technologies, the leading company in this space with multiple sites operational, to see its model in action. Range of fulfillment models The challenge of developing a profitable model for grocery ecommerce as it scales is underpinning much of the in...
29 October 2019
E-commerce is growing in almost all markets, presenting opportunities for retailers and technology firms to innovate and provide faster, safer, cost-effective and environment-friendly delivery alternatives in both the last and middle mile space. However, with unique opportunities come not only operational challenges but also numerous and evolving regulations. To date, the tendency from regul...
22 October 2019
We recently published the first in a three-part series benchmarking the building blocks of industry collaboration. To support the work, we gathered the views of over 200 global respondents from mainly commercial and supply chain roles. In this blog, I’ll explore a selection of the key findings. We asked respondents to benchmark their business’s capability in 13 areas. We grouped these into s...
17 October 2019
The latest instalment of IGD’s annual supply chain event took place this week. This was my fourth Supply Chain Summit and it was another great day! Here’s a recap in case you missed it. Customer-centric – the business imperative IGD’s CEO, Susan Barratt, opened on the main stage, setting the scene by delivering a few clear messages. The one that resonated with me most is “You must shape ...
25 September 2019
Not a week goes by without me reading a news story focused on the application of technology by a food and consumer goods business. Most are presented as revolutionary, with the removal of cost, improved productivity and greater efficiency commonly claimed benefits. Of course, some will do just that and the business that has invested will be very happy with the results. Others won't have the ...
14 August 2019
Logistics is evolving fast, with new technologies supporting the emergence of solutions that are disrupting the status quo. In many markets, a small number of large players dominate, holding a large portion of the overall pie, with the size of operators’ fleets and a track-record on delivering (literally) helping them secure and maintain their advantage and win long-term contracts. But with ...
07 August 2019
My colleague, Stewart Samuel, recently published a report outlining Walmart’s digitisation strategy across its store network in the US, having attended Walmart’s Shareholders Week. The event detailed several examples of how Walmart is looking to drive supply chain efficiencies in stores through digitisation and automation of previously manual activities. What became immediately apparent wa...