02 October 2003 | Colleen Harris
The British red meat industry could save 10 per cent of its supply chain costs by applying "lean thinking", says a new guide.
But farmers, abattoirs, retailers and caterers must work in closer partnership to cut out waste and focus on value, said Jon Woolven, director of Food Chain Centre and co-sponsor of the guide, Cutting Costs - Adding Value in Red Meat.
"We realise that businesses need solutions and advice on how to tackle these issues. The red meat industry is not complacent. However, all chains have the potential to improve."
The guide said the supply chain needed to streamline administration, including sales forecasting where poor communication between suppliers and retail purchasers can result in surplus inventory stock at shop level.
Chris Brown, head of agriculture at retail chain Asda, welcomed help in finding new ways to analyse supply chain efficiency.
"We've all assumed that we're efficient, but we really haven't got a method of analysing it," he said.
"There are a lot of steps in that 'farm-to-fork' process, not just in product but in information flows."
Pilot projects to improve efficiency are being carried out by the Red Meat Industry Forum and the Food Chain Centre.
The Department of Trade and Industry is sponsoring eight of the pilots, and the other two are sponsored by the Welsh Development Agency.