Reflections from IGD Supply Chain Summit 2018

Date : 14 November 2018

We held our annual Supply Chain Summit yesterday, with a wealth of great speakers from the food and grocery industry alongside academics and thought leaders, solution providers and a colleague from the automotive industry.

Over the coming weeks we will create some summary reports and case studies, but here are my initial reflections on the day, grouped by some key themes that I took away.


Although supply chain people are used to working together, it is clear from the speakers that there is still much potential for this to improve.

  • Tom Moody, Managing Director for Northern Europe with P&G, urged our industry to share much more data than we do now, especially but not only in supply chain. He said that our industry could benefit from much greater levels of openness with our trading partners.
  • Sam Watkins, Dairy Category Buying Manager with Tesco, said retailers and manufacturers should unite against “the common enemy of the Seven Wastes”, as part of his joint presentation with Gordon Walsh of Ornua Foods on their customer-focused commercial relationship.
  • Natalie Bleach and Paul Dunne, co-chairs of the IGD Supply Chain Leaders Forum, told us that communication would be vital to handle Brexit effectively. They also urged attendees to consider participating in IGD’s talent development programmes, especially cross-company Mentoring.
  • James Hamilton, Senior Project Manager - Digital Supply Chain with Jaguar Land Rover, told us about JLR’s pilot projects to bring greater openness to its supply chain. He said JLR is aiming to connect more closely with suppliers and create two-way sharing relationships. In doing so, they hope to improve delivery to customers, save time and money, solve short-term issues and create a databank to predict future potential risks.


  • James Walton, IGD’s Chief Economist, pointed to the work he and the IGD team have already published to help businesses manage the transition (, and outlined his five key risks presented to the UK grocery supply chain by a “no-deal” Brexit:
  • Malcolm Talmage, Store Ordering Operations Manager with Tesco, reminded us that whilst this is a critical test for supply chains in the coming months, there are other significant challenges as well. He pointed in particular to CO2 shortages and cyber attacks, both of which have disrupted product availability in the last couple of years.
  • Many other presenters mentioned this topic with a sense of trepidation, and we had a whole breakout session for those who wanted more information, which will be summarised separately.

Transparency and sustainability

  • Dr Donna Champion, Associate Professor at Nottingham Business School, gave us a primer of blockchain technology, reminding us that whilst they are NOT tamper-proof, they are tamper-EVIDENT. She described the potential business value from increased transparency and the ability to monitor the waste in the extended value chain.
  • Judith Batchelar, Brand Director with Sainsburys, talked through some projects that were new to me, focusing on technical solutions to product integrity. She described Ocean Mind, a satellite monitoring system for fishing vessels to give greater assurance over compliance to Marine Sustainability Council standards. Data about the transport and processing is then linked into Fish Coin, a blockchain-enabled system to follow products right through to the shelf.
  • Harald Henriksen, EVP with TOMRA Collection Solutions, described TOMRA’s Clean Loop Recycling solution, focused on Deposit Return Schemes for a variety of recyclable materials. The focus is on enabling a true circular economy in which materials are recycled and used for the same purpose multiple times.

Change and Future Supply Chains

  • Tom Moody reminded all the businesses in the audience that they need to be aware of the “curse of the incumbent”; the risk of complacency which reduces innovation and customer connection, allowing more nimble entrepreneurial businesses to capture your market.
  • Chris Elliott, Pro-Vice Chancellor at Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast, described how “we must produce more food over the next 50 years than we did in the past 500”. He outlined some of the changes that would be needed for us to have food systems that are truly based on integrity, such as increased authenticity, more nutritious food (to combat “Hidden Hunger”), and more respect for the people and the land involved in food production.
  • Mark Thorpe, Chief Executive Officer, KP Snacks, described how people and internal alignment had been an essential part of the transformation of KP Snacks. The leadership team was revitalised and the wider teams in factories and offices were involved in creating values and behaviours that they could all get behind. Objectives were more aligned, for example helping factories to see complexity from new pack sizes not as an increase in their costs but as a business growth initiative.

For those who attended, I hope you had an insightful and entertaining day. For those who weren’t there, keep an eye out for more content coming soon so you don’t miss out on the key messages. And please make a note in your diary for next year’s event, which will be on Tuesday 15th October 2019. See you there!

Alistair Balderson, Head of Supply Chain Insight, IGD

Alistair Balderson

I’m responsible for the online Supply Chain Analysis service.

We provide insight and knowledge so our users can make their supply chain functions more successful. I need to ensure we cover the right topics, mixing forward-looking thought leadership and practical inspiration for today. If you have a success story to share or want to know more about our supply chains insights, get in touch.

We also work with companies on a range of bespoke projects. If you have a question you need answering or a team development need, give us a call.

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