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Food manufacturers can gain greater control over their supply chains and no longer be so reliant on supermarkets for profit if they embrace the eCommerce world and optimise their back office and front-of-house business solutions.

That’s the message from international consultancy Columbus, at a time when a number of food manufacturing firms are moving away from the big four supermarkets in the UK and considering other routes to market for their products. Columbus insists that retailers are still an integral part of the food supply chain, and many food manufacturers need to be supplementing the work they already do with major retailers, with a fully encompassing Omnichannel strategy.

Mary Hunter, Managing Director of Columbus, says, “If you look at some of the more successful food manufacturing businesses, many of these supply goods to major retail stores and wholesalers as well as direct to consumers through eCommerce, webstores and distributors. During an age where consumerism is changing at a rapid pace and customers are demanding instant access to products, food manufacturers are missing a market channel and extra revenue if they are not embracing digital opportunities.”

Columbus is one of a limited number of consultancies in the marketplace capable of providing both a comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning Solution solution tailored to the individual needs of food manufacturing businesses, as well as an end-to-end Omnichannel retail solution. The company’s advice follows Rabobank’s most recent report on the food processing industry which declared food manufacturers are unprepared for the digital revolution. With the World Retail Congress revealing that supermarkets are already increasing sales by up to 20% through integrating their online and store sales in an Omnichannel strategy, Columbus states that grocers and food processors in particular, ought to be considering doing the same.

Mary Hunter says, “If food manufacturing businesses can get their IT infrastructure right, and optimise their back end systems with intelligent, integrated front-of-house and webstore solutions, there’s no reason why they can’t exercise greater control over their supply chains and supplement the profit they make from supermarkets by distributing their products through other channels.

“Omnichannel strategies that do encompass digital have no limitations on shelf space, reduced barriers to listing and delisting products, and very low capital expenditure requirements. Those businesses that fail to embrace digital channels in their Omnichannel strategy risk being pushed to the back of the e-shelf. It’s not about whether you should work with major retailers or not, but more about bringing multiple channels together for real supply chain independence.”

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CBEs are used in specific recipes for confectionery products. They contain a variety of oils such palm and shea and are comparable to cocoa butter in terms of physical properties. Segregation ensures that certified palm is physically kept apart throughout the supply chain and is fully present in the end product.

Massimo Garavaglia, President Western Europe, says, “The demand for food products produced in a responsible way continues to grow, and we’re seeing an increasing number of customers requesting sustainable and traceable ingredients. With this move to fully RSPO segregated CBEs, we are taking another pro-active step in meet ing customers’ needs and at the same time supporting sustainable agriculture that safeguards the environment in equatorial regions.”

The Barry Callebaut Group is committed to making its supply chain more sustainable, primarily in cocoa farming but also in the sourcing of palm oil and palm oil derivatives. The Barry Callebaut Group has been an approved member of RSPO since 2011, and in 2013, the Group announced the switch to sourcing fully segregated RSPO-certified palm oil across Europe. Since then, the company has certified almost all of its manufacturing operations worldwide to be able to offer products with segregated RSPO palm oil.

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