Inside Foodbuy PT5: Delivering a better Supply Chain with Jonathan Wright

Wednesday, 24 March 2021
Working collaboratively with our clients to ensure a streamlined supply chain experience, free of shortages and with no hidden surprises, is our business. 

After all, a supply chain is only as robust as the team sitting behind it. So, we caught up with our Supply Chain Director, Jonathan Wright to give you a look behind the scenes:

1. Tell us about the Supply Chain team at Foodbuy.

“Put simply, supply chain is all about boxes and wheels.

We work hard to ensure that our food, beverage and non-food products are successfully delivered on time, and in full, to all of our clients. We do this by working closely with our manufacturers, our distribution partners and our direct vendors to offer complete transparency from start to finish.

My team of Supply Chain Planners are responsible for ensuring products make their way safely to our clients; working with over 2,000 suppliers, to deliver more than 80,000 orders per week to 12,000+ locations – so it’s a real team effort!”

 2. How has the Covid-19 pandemic changed things for your team?

“Like everyone, the last 12 months has seen unprecedented change and the Supply Chain team has needed to adapt and show their resilience in times of adversity. We’ve drawn on our relationships with partners and reacted at extraordinary pace; everything from setting up completely new packing operations through to finding new routes to market where we have not needed them previously.

This year the team have shown their worth more than ever before. We made sure we found solutions when our clients needed us most.”

3. What are some of the key responsibilities of your team?

“Our day-to-day responsibilities include commercial and operational management of our distribution partners. This includes management of inbound supply chains, product forecasting, product switches and launches and service management. Our clients often require bespoke support, such as mobilisations for large sporting events. Such large events require close project management and planning. Our team supports and finds solutions to help them with this whilst ensuring a smooth transition across the entire supply chain.

We work closely with our distribution partners to plan the most sustainable routes, delivery times and delivery days, all supporting our mission to ‘Buy Smart’ – reducing our carbon footprint and building a robust supply chain that will protect clients from any future crisis.

Working with the industry’s biggest wholesalers, as well as regional and specialist providers, we support clients to choose from a vast network of distributors, whilst still benefiting from our negotiated prices.”

4. What’s a day in the life of the Supply Chain team?

“It’s a cliché, but no two days are ever the same! When managing tens of thousands of products for our clients, there’s always something happening. We have a close-knit team that shares insights, solutions, opportunities and expertise to maintain service delivery excellence, no matter the circumstance.

Irrespective of the distributor a client uses, our teams track transactions, aggregate reports and audit purchases via Epsys to ensure our clients know exactly what they ordered, who they bought it from and how much they paid for it.

Just as importantly, we’ll share the size of the opportunity to show where our clients can really access additional benefits – whether that be product, supplier or route to market related opportunities!”

5. Can you tell us more about reducing food miles?

“As the largest food procurement company in the UK, we have a responsibility when it comes to protecting the environment. Taking trucks and miles away from our network is one of the fundamental ways we can support this.

In fact, we have recently taken 10,000 deliveries off the road each week by ensuring we have the right delivery schedule in place for our clients – and this is something we’re constantly reviewing.  

Our model is unique. We contract with manufacturers, farmers, growers, smaller suppliers and social enterprises – and nominate our specially selected products into central distribution partners via one national route to market. Not only does this unlock a world of opportunity for SMEs, but single multi-temperature deliveries also result in fewer food miles and CO2 emissions!

There is always more we can do, and we constantly look at how we can reduce delivery miles, reduce packaging and strive for net zero.” 

6. How can businesses build supply chain resilience?

“Moving forward, post-Covid, supply chain “stress tests” will become a new necessity.

Never before have supply chains been put under so much strain, with driver and depot absenteeism, unusually low volumes of products being ordered, infrequent deliveries, unexpected changes in demand, as well as legislation and customs changes have all put strain on supply chains across the globe.

Working with a Group Procurement Organisation (GPO) is a great way to ensure peace of mind when it comes to supply chain stability.

With our economies of scale and an award-wining supplier network, we can mitigate pricing fluctuations and ensure continuity of supply by working strategically with suppliers – and never compromising on quality.”

7. Looking forward, what does the future hold for supply chains?

“Net Zero is a huge consideration for businesses moving forward, and believe it or not, supply chains are one of the biggest ways you can make a difference to your carbon impact.

Looking ahead, expect to see a rise in more sustainable fleet, that could be thanks to a rise in electric vehicles, or even using Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel which is one of the cleanest fuels on the market.

Elsewhere, and away from vehicles, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is likely to optimise the way picking, packing and the supply chain runs in general. Ultimately, cutting down on errors and improving accuracy across the supply chain can only be a good thing!

Consumers are also demanding more knowledge on where their product has come from and blockchain could be the solution. Already revolutionising several industries, blockchain purchasing is a ground-breaking technology that allows a buyer to understand the full end-to-end journey of a product. Demand will also mean a lot of change for supply chain – cleaner supply chains, faster order fulfilment, better quality and of course traceability. The supply chain will continue to change and improve – so I, for one, am excited to see how our industry evolves with the times!"

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If you would like to further explore how we can increase the robustness of your supply chain, contact us here or connect with Charlie Hudson via LinkedIn to start the conversation.