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Managing Crisis Within the Food and Beverage Supply Chain

supply chain

Managing Crisis Within the Food and Beverage Supply Chain

If there’s one thing France hasn’t experienced a shortage of recently, it’s supply chain issues. The pandemic affected food and drink availability in a number of ways, from issues with growth and production to a shortage of delivery vehicles. This has caused a number of issues for food and beverage manufacturers, who are struggling to keep up with demand as a supplier while also experiencing issues in their own supply chains.

The wine shortage in 2021, caused by unseasonably cold weather in key wine-growing regions, has also had a serious impact given France is the second-largest wine producer in the world. The l’Association Nationale des Produits Alimentaires attributed current and future expected shortages to price rises throughout the supply chain.

It’s clear that we’re likely to experience more supply chain issues in the near future. But there are ways food and beverage manufacturers can mitigate these risks. Here, we’ll explore the options.

Protect your existing supplies and production

At a time when food production is affected by issues such as the weather, protecting existing resources is essential. Many food manufacturers have had to recall products because of avoidable issues in the factory. Food manufacturing powerhouse Kraft Heinz made global headlines when it had to recall over 1.2 million containers of cottage cheese because they weren’t stored at the correct temperature.

Equipment maintenance is essential to prevent unnecessary product spoilage and recalls. Many manufacturers will operate on a reactive maintenance model, only maintaining machinery when it fails. Instead, switching to proactive maintenance and checking equipment regularly can help to identify issues before they become a problem. Predictive maintenance technologies are now more commonplace too and will monitor the health of systems automatically.

Food contamination is also an issue that can result in recalls and even affect the health of end consumers. It was reported in 2021 that foodborne illnesses increased between 2018 and 2019, with salmonella topping the list of pathogens. There are a range of processes that can threaten the hygiene of food – from handlers not washing their hands to unsanitary cabling. Many manufacturers use stainless steel goulottes métalliques because they’re easy to clean and decontaminate.

Diversify your suppliers

Access to, and costs of, the raw materials needed to make foodstuff is a key issue right now. it’s essential for manufacturers to diversify their suppliers in the wake of supply chain disruptions. If you rely on one or two suppliers for one key ingredient and they experience issues, you’ll feel this more acutely.

In the wake of COVID-19’s dramatic impact on small businesses, while global behemoths like Amazon increased their profits, we’ve seen a shift towards prioritising local businesses. To encourage this, the government introduced click and collect services for small businesses that didn’t have the resource to set up an ecommerce presence.

The same should go for businesses looking for new suppliers. Small businesses need support, and local suppliers can offer more security to your business because they’re more easily accessible. What’s more, with a renewed focus on sustainability in France in 2022, going local can boost a business’ green credentials.

Support the elimination of food waste

Consumer food waste is a real problem worldwide, but especially in France. Despite a number of legislations in place to prevent food waste, research by Statista has shown that bread is one of the food items French consumers waste the most often. The survey found that 16% of consumers were throwing bread away at least once a week. Given that flour is an ingredient that has soared in price, throwing away its end product is costly.

At a time of food shortages and soaring prices, the nation should be focusing on reducing food waste. France is a global leader in the reduction of business food waste, as well as helping consumers to recycle applicable soiled food. The government and businesses can build on this platform with educational campaigns on reducing the amount of food that is thrown away or recycled.

Food manufacturers can play their part too. Packaging should include information on how best to store the food, as well as tips on making it last longer – such as storing unused bread in the freezer, transferring dried food to airtight glass containers, and putting fresh herbs in water.

France’s supply chain issues are set to continue into 2022. While it’ll be difficult to completely prevent shortages and price fluctuations, there are a number of steps that food manufacturers can take to mitigate these issues and ensure they can continue to provide essential resources for businesses and consumers alike.




How Can Hauliers Cope With an Even Higher Demand This Christmas?

The Christmas rush is something hauliers anticipate every year. But it’s going to be felt more acutely this year with the additional pressures of a driver shortage and Brexit affecting the supply of some goods.

The haulage sector is set to experience its busiest Christmas period on record. On top of the usual increase in demands, there’s the perfect storm of the HGV driver shortage and supply chains impacted by Brexit and COVID. By focusing on increasing efficiency and reducing empty running, hauliers can meet these higher demands and ensure their customers receive the highest level of service.

This means hauliers will need to be even more efficient and prepared in order to meet the demands of businesses and consumers this Christmas.

Here, we cover how hauliers can cope with arguably the most demanding Christmas we’ve ever experienced.

Make planning more efficient

Efficient planning is paramount to success for all hauliers, but never has it been more important than right now. A Logistics UK survey revealed that 96% of hauliers are struggling to recruit drivers, with 13% saying their shortage is severe to very severe. To meet high demands with a potentially depleted workforce, hauliers need to get the most out of their available resources.

That’s where route planning software comes in. By feeding in all the collections and deliveries you need to make, and your vehicle and driver availability, you’ll be able to plan the most efficient routes and get the most out of your fleet.

With these solutions, you’ll have one view of your business supported by real-time information. Your planners can then make informed decisions. In the hectic traffic rush leading up to Christmas, it’s critical you can identify and manage exceptions as deliveries progress because it’s undoubtedly the busiest period on the road.

Eliminate empty running

When you have a larger-than-usual task on your hands to keep up with demand this Christmas, running empty seems even more wasteful than usual. Yet, for many hauliers, this is the case on their return journeys. If your drivers travel back empty from Glasgow to Plymouth on their return journey, for instance, that’s a lot of wasted mileage.

Using a freight exchange platform gives hauliers the opportunity to not only make the most of their journeys but also serve more customers in a time of increased demands. This can help optimize fleets in the short term and also enables hauliers to expand their network to connect with new shippers. Haulage companies with loyal customers but limited resources have the opportunity to subcontract their excess work on these platforms, meaning they can still take on additional haulage loads and get customers’ jobs done.

Allow your drivers to do more in their workday

The changes to drivers’ hours, which means drivers can work up to 11 hours a day twice a week, has been extended once again to January. But we know that making already overworked drivers work longer hours isn’t the solution, especially when many of the drivers who’ve left the sector have done so due to poor working conditions.

Giving your drivers the tools they need to achieve more in their workday is a much better solution. Not only will this allow your business to be more efficient, but you’ll also improve their satisfaction by making their jobs easier. Let’s face it, dealing with paper proof of deliveries is difficult to manage and adds time to their day.

It’s these inefficient processes that can frustrate drivers, cause delays, and even result in them finishing their day later than expected. It’s no wonder that drivers are leaving businesses that aren’t addressing this problem. Using digital tools like electronic proof of delivery and apps that provide real-time details of their deliveries allows them to focus on the job and get more done in their day.


Sustainable Dining: How the Food and Drinks Market Is Becoming Eco-Friendly

As things stand, our planet is not in a good shape. With the effects of climate change becoming more and more apparent every year, many are trying to do their bit in a bid to save our run-down environment. In this respect, it is fair to say that the food and drink market is gradually adapting to this new ‘reality’ too.

Indeed, while biting into the cheese and ham sandwich you bought on your way to work, you may notice that its packaging has a green recyclable sign on it. At the same time, you may realize that you are sipping a hot, flavorsome coffee from an eco-friendly wood-pulp paper cup as well.

Electrix, a manufacturer of Kabelkanal, explores the topic of sustainability within the food and drinks market. What is this industry doing to ensure it provides green, sustainable products?

Growth of fair trade

As the name suggests, fair trade is an arrangement designed to assist farmers and workers in developing countries through better working conditions and equitable trade relationships. Not only this, but it also strives to support and promote good agricultural practices which – in the long run – encourage environmentally sustainable production.

Indeed, from prohibiting the use of harmful agrochemicals and focusing on the reduction of pesticides, fair trade ensures that farms are limiting their waste while enhancing biodiversity. Stretching from Western Africa to Latin America, fair trade’s positive influence on the food and drink market is constantly growing.

By allowing small farmers from all over the world to implement sustainable agricultural practices, workers are able to mitigate their impact on the environment and ultimately challenge climate change.

Eco-friendly packaging

Packaging is crucial in many different ways. Whether we like it or not, first impressions count – and this is particularly true for the food and drinks market. If a product looks good on the outside, the consumer is likely to automatically think it tastes nice too. But design is not the only aspect brands are concerned about.

With the future of our environment in mind, the industry is looking at alternative and innovative methods of making packaging as sustainable as possible. For instance, beer cans are gradually ditching the infamous six-pack plastic rings in favor of eco-friendlier dots of glue, which keep the beverages together just as well.

Moreover, brands are constantly exploring solutions that will help reduce plastic and glass waste. Indeed, wood-pulp paper bottles and sustainable plastic-free food packaging are slowly starting to stack supermarket shelves.

What is more, some food and drinks businesses are opting for sleek carved-in branding on their products as opposed to wrap-around labels. This said, however, most labels nowadays are recyclable and biodegradable anyway.


It is easy to forget that food and drinks often travel hundreds (if not thousands) of miles to get to our local supermarket. As heavy-good vehicles account for 25% of CO2 emissions from transportation, it becomes clear that the way in which products reach our shelves should be carefully monitored.

In this respect, to contrast the negative impact food and drinks transportation has on our environment, many farmer’s markets do not allow vendors to sell products that have traveled more than 200 miles. In some cases, the threshold is 50 miles.

Not only is this an excellent way to support the local economy, but it also allows consumers to enjoy fresher products while actively reducing their carbon footprint.

Conscious consumers

There is no hiding that buyers play a fundamental role in shaping the way the food and drinks market operates. Ultimately, is it not consumers that brands are trying to appeal to?

For instance, health is an important component in people’s decision-making. As well as considering its environmental benefits, sustainable and organic food is particularly inviting, as it is healthier and safer to eat. Furthermore, by providing buyers with eco-friendly packaging options, brands have the chance to increase consumer interest. Indeed, anybody who has at heart the future of our planet will tendentially opt for a product that has gone out of its way to be as green as possible.

Finally, with the increase in vegetarian and vegan diets, the demand for sustainable alternatives is on the rise – and the food and drinks market will inevitably have to keep pace with people’s new style of living.

With the repercussions of climate change in plain sight, sustainability is the way forward to preserve our planet. To make sure it both plays its part and satisfies people’s new necessities, the food and drinks market is slowly shifting towards an eco-friendlier approach that suits both the environment and its consumers.



food and drink

The Millennials Championing Change in the Food and Drink Industry

Millennials have a great potential to change our culture. For the food and drink industry, change is nothing new. New tastes and influences constantly turn over menus and products that reflect consumer demand. However, young people today are forcing the hand of manufacturers and restaurateurs. Demand for unique, varied, and stimulating food and drink is higher than ever.

Here, Electrix, a provider of electrical junction boxes for food and drink manufacturers, explores the trends that millennials enjoy and how it can help restaurants, bars, and stores get a competitive edge.

Boundary pushing

Millennials thrive on uniqueness, and seeking out new experiences is at the core of food and drink culture for this generation. 72 percent of millennials said that they would prefer to spend money on experiences over material things. Food and drink brands recognizing this shift in behavior are beginning to question whether they are selling a product or selling an experience.

To enjoy unique experiences, millennials will seek out opportunities to try new foods and drinks, exploring flavors that have been traditionally hidden in mainstream culture. In the US, international cuisine has seen accelerated growth. In fact, international cuisine is expected to outpace traditional food categories within the next three to five years, according to the Food Institute.

This is happening because the cuisine offers new experiences. Boundaries must be pushed if opportunities are to be found. This journey begins by finding a unique selling point of food and drink and understanding how to create an experience around it.

No option is not an option

Millennials demand choice, and brands that can offer variety are succeeding with millennial demographics. It shouldn’t be surprising. Young people today are familiar with choice: picking from thousands of movies on Netflix, browsing an expansive selection of nut milk in a local café, or debating how and where to eat their food. The latter has certainly been popularized during the pandemic.

Restaurants have not only seen the opportunity in food delivery, but lockdowns have forced restaurant-quality food to come to the customer, rather than the customer heading to the restaurant.

The trend of home delivery options is expected to grow. While in 2017, restaurant to consumer delivery in the US was valued at $11.5 billion, by 2020 it achieved $15.6 in sales. Projections suggest it will further grow to $18.5 billion by 2024. As home delivery options increase, proactive food and drink businesses that seize the opportunity will similarly experience growth. The choice to eat in, take out, or use delivery services is essential for millennials.

Choice isn’t just about convenience. Food and drink brands should curate offerings that reflect lifestyle choices. Does a food brand offer vegan alternatives or meet any other dietary requirements? Can a bar offer a selection of non-alcoholic drinks? Creating choice is creating inclusivity, and when looking for new food and drink options, this offering will give businesses a competitive edge.

Stimulating all the senses

Food and drink aren’t just for the pleasure of tongues. Today, millennials expect an aesthetics experience that they can share with friends and family on social media. In fact, ‘#Food’ has been tagged over 456 billion times on Instagram. ‘#Drink’ and ‘#Cocktails’ have been tagged over 47 million and 30 million times respectively. Millennials make up the main bulk of Instagram users, with those aged between 18 to 34 making up 62 percent of global users.

One survey found that 69 percent of US millennials in this age range took a photo of their food before eating. So, should those in the food industry be working to make their food look great as well as taste great? Absolutely!

Food and drink that appeals to all the senses are gaining ground, whether in restaurants or on grocery store shelves. Consider social media sensations such as Salt Bae, sprinkling seasoning over steak. The recent trend of baklava, tossing pistachio pastry into the air. Or Martinelli apple juice, which replicates the sound of an apple when the bottle is bitten. Each is exciting, unique, and goes down a storm on social media, building millions of views on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

Millennials are forcing the food and drink industry to be more than just connoisseurs of flavor. Value in other aspects must be recognized and actioned to encourage millennials through the door.




Has COVID-19 Changed the French Food Delivery Market Forever?

The French food delivery market is hugely lucrative, worth €180 billion and growing. Food makes up 20% of our manufacturing output, highlighting its economic importance.

The market was flipped on its head during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw restaurants, cafes, and bars close their doors and demand for deliveries rise.

Electrix, a producer of coffret électrique encastré for the food industry, explores how the pandemic has changed consumer needs and how the market could look in the coming months.

Our Changing Food Delivery Habits

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. As businesses closed their front doors and we were confined to our homes, consumer behavior changed.

People were forced to turn to online shopping for non-essential items, but many also began to shop online for critical supplies, like groceries. Takeaway food deliveries increased as people sought comfort in delicious restaurant food at home. 29% of French households were already getting meals delivered to their home regularly, which naturally increased when we were unable to go out.

We were seeing a shift towards eating out before the pandemic. In 2019, there was an 8.5% increase in people eating outside the home, whether that was in bars, restaurants, or cafes. 48% of people said this was the activity they were most eager to get back to, scoring it higher than seeing family and friends or attending events.

Fast Grocery Delivery will Become the Norm

Demand for grocery deliveries rose as people sought to avoid contracting the virus in shops. Stores struggled to keep up with this demand initially, but they soon adapted. Because of this huge response, we’re now seeing companies offer grocery deliveries in as little as 15 minutes across the country. Interestingly, this activity reached a new high in Europe in the first quarter of 2021 rather than during the first lockdown.

Cajoo, the first French company to offer immediate grocery deliveries, put itself up for sale as its competition rose quickly. It went from being an innovator to one of many businesses offering the same services in an instant, so high is the demand for fast food shopping deliveries.

It’s important to note that these operations are expensive and require multiple locations. Cajoo committed to paying its drivers a salary, while we’ve seen other providers cut delivery costs in order to remain more profitable, which can impact driver earnings. One thing is for sure – fast grocery delivery is here to stay.

Will People Dine out More Again?

While lockdown restrictions have eased, capacity in restaurants, bars, and cafes is still limited as the vaccine rollout continues. We know that eating out is the activity the French public has missed the most during the lockdown, but we’re seeing mixed results on people returning to restaurants.

In December 2020, a survey was released on our intentions to dine out after lockdown restrictions were eased, and the results were surprising. 51% of respondents said they intended to dine out less than usual, while 35% said they’d do it as much as they had prior to the pandemic. While many restaurants have been fully booked since reopening, the hospitality industry union UMIH has estimated that the recent introduction of green passes could reduce visitor numbers by 15–20%.

It’s clear that we’re taking precautions as France continues its roadmap out of lockdown. While visits to restaurants after the easing of restrictions exceeded 2019 levels by 50%, consumers are currently dining out less. We expect this trend to continue in the coming months because of the backlash to the COVID pass, despite the fact that dining out is a much-loved activity in the country.

Fast Food Delivery will Get More Competitive

As people ordered more fast food through the pandemic, delivery services increased fiercely. Uber Eats has long dominated the takeaway delivery market in France, but we saw Deliveroo triple its subscribers by offering unlimited deliveries for a small initial fee of 1€, rising to only 5.99€ at the end of 2020.

When France fully exits from lockdown restrictions – whenever that may be– we may see a decline in fast food delivery orders. The pandemic increased competition between the providers of these services as they looked to capitalize on increased demands, but we may see even more discounts as spend in this area inevitably drops.

A Backlash to Competitiveness?

With competition at an all-time high in the food delivery market, we’re seeing businesses undercut themselves and each other to gain key market shares, such as the low delivery prices offered by Deliveroo. We know that this can impact the earnings of its drivers, so could we also see a backlash to this type of ruthless competitiveness? Just Eat, which has a smaller share in the market, hired 4,500 drivers on permanent contracts in order to build and an ethical brand.

Values matter to French consumers, and half wouldn’t continue to buy from a business that didn’t have similar values to them. We could see businesses that take an ethical stance increase their market share.

There’s no doubt that the past 18 months have shifted consumer behaviors in a way we never expected, and this will impact the future of the market. The food delivery market in France is highly valuable, and we’re seeing new trends emerge as a result of our changing habits.




Climate Change: The French Wine Disaster & Beyond

Complex supply chains around the world make countries dependent on others for essential items, including food and drink. When it is interrupted, the effects are felt globally. We’ve already experienced the turmoil that disrupted supply chains can have during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire issued a statement to the nation’s supermarkets urging them to stock French products.

There are a few instances other than COVID-19 where disasters have interrupted the supply chain, causing economic damage. Agriculture tends to take the biggest financial hits and losses during disasters such as extreme weather, which are becoming more frequent, intense, and complex. Between 2008 and 2018, agricultural disasters cost developing countries more than €908 billion, having a profound effect on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who were already struggling against large corporations.

Electrix, a producer of coffret électrique encastré for the food industry, takes a look at the French wine disaster and other events around the world that had an impact on food and drink.

The wine disaster

Unseasonal frost hit France this year, seeing a usually warm April suddenly struck by freezing temperatures and bitter frost. The initial record-warm early spring resulted in vines and fruit trees blooming earlier than they would usually, and they were then ruined by an unexpected bout of cold temperatures. Research has found that as the world’s temperature rises, the timing of seasons will change and become more severe.

Vineyards in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, and the Rhône Valley were affected and resorted to lighting thousands of fires and candles near the vines and trees in an attempt to keep them warm overnight. Sadly, many winemakers have reported a 100 percent loss on their yield.

French agriculture minister Julien Denormandie commented: “This is probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jean Castex pledged €1bn in aid to winemakers and farmers. It may take years for some vineyards to recover.

France’s wine industry has already been dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and decreased demand from restaurant orders, as well as previously battling with Donald Trump’s tariffs on key French goods, including wine and cheese, which resulted in a near 14 percent drop in French wine and spirits exports last year. Furthermore, due to the effects of climate change, the flavors of wine will likely change or, in some cases, disappear forever. Merlot, for example, could become a thing of the past due to the grapes used in that particular wine being less resilient to changing weather patterns.

Thirsty crops exhausting groundwater

Rice is the primary source of food for more than three billion people every day and is helping prevent the world’s food crisis from getting worse. Sadly, there is a risk of rising food insecurity for such a staple food.

India is experiencing both a water and agricultural crisis that has been developing for decades. Rice is one of the thirstiest crops that exist – farmers use 15,000 liters of water on average to grow one kilogram of paddy (rice plant). Rice is draining northern India’s Punjab of its groundwater, with the ground expected to be exhausted by 2039 and become comparable to a desert. A fifth of the world’s population lives in India, who only have four percent of global water while simultaneously being the largest user of it with 90 percent of their water used for agriculture.

India isn’t the only country struggling to grow rice due to a lack of water – countries in Southeast Asia such as China are facing the same challenge. Climate change is making extreme weather like flooding and droughts happen more regularly, making water difficult to source. Scientists are looking to develop new strains of rice that require less water and are more resilient to drought and climate change.  Plus, water technologists in New Delhi are looking to design water management techniques that use no more than 600 liters of water for one kg of paddy.

Increased breeding of rodents in Australia

Australia has faced the brunt of climate change, ranging from bushfires that devastated 27.2 million acres of land to damaged food and crops due to the largest plague of mice ever seen. Australian farmers are used to a mouse plague every ten years or so; however, with the planet warming up, they could become more regular with more mice than ever. The temperatures create the perfect breeding ground for the rodents, which then go on to destroy crops.

Farmers are even forced to burn their crops which have been infested with mice and mice urine.

A disaster-resilient future is possible if we develop sustainable agriculture. Preparing for risk management can help in reducing agriculture’s vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change.



supply chains

What Will the WFH Trend Mean for the Economy and Global Supply Chains?

A lot has changed over the last year and a half. When it comes to businesses, supply chains, and the UK economy, no one could have anticipated the changes we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. Although lockdown restrictions are now all lifted, not everything will go back to “normal” straight away. Working from home, for instance, is something that is set to continue for many workers.

Despite government officials urging employees to return to offices, there is clear reluctance. In one YouGov survey, one in five people said they wanted to continue working from home full time after the pandemic. On top of this, 57 percent of workers in the UK say they want to have the option to work from home after the pandemic at least some of the time. This represents a huge shift of opinion in comparison to how people felt about remote working before the pandemic. Before 2020, two-thirds of workers said they’d never worked from home before and only 11 percent of employees worked remotely full time.

With the shift to home-working set to continue, we are left wondering what impact this trend will mean both for the UK economy and for global supply chains. Let’s find out more about the impact home-working has had so far and what it might mean for the future.

Productivity rates

One major concern that many CEOs had at the beginning of the pandemic was the potential fall in productivity that working from home could bring. Despite concerns, there have been mixed results so far. While many companies have noticed a decrease in productivity, some reports claim that working from home can boost employee engagement and productivity. With one report stating that a quarter of companies in the UK have seen a downturn in productivity, however, it’s reasonable to be hesitant about the future of remote working. This downturn is likely to mean that the economy could continue to struggle, even with the restrictions completely lifted.

Public transport

Another reason that many are concerned about the ongoing impact of home-working is the impact that WFH has had on the transport sector. The transport sector has been damaged by the lack of commuting and could struggle to bounce back. As a result of home working, commuter numbers dropped by a quarter. However, the government is still being urged to spend money on public transport in a bid to encourage people to return to offices.

The move from city centers

Another concern about remote working is the impact it can have on city-center businesses. With many cafes and restaurants designed to cater to office workers, the economic impact of WFH on the service industry has been stark. An example of the impact that deserted city centers have had on food and drink businesses can be seen with Pret a Manger. This chain recently unveiled plans to expand beyond city centers to keep up with the shift in working practices.

Impact on global supply chains

The COVID-19 pandemic had also had an impact on global supply chains, extending to many different industries. From food and drink distributions to engineering equipment supply chains that transport hydraulic cylinder parts, the shift to working from home has changed the way global distribution works. Although many people who work in supply chains have carried on work in person throughout the pandemic, those who have shifted to remote working have experienced difficulties. According to one survey, 57 percent of supply chain and logistics professionals said that collaborating with colleagues while working from home was one of their biggest challenges. However, there was an even split between people who said they felt equally as productive in their roles and those who said they felt less productive. Although individuals within the supply chain industry have faced difficulties, the biggest hits that supply chains have taken throughout the pandemic are related to worldwide trade restrictions that are forecasted to lift after the threat of COVID-19 has subsided.

Although WFH might be the perfect solution for many businesses, other industries are likely to take a hit. Ultimately, each CEO’s policy on remote working must be drawn up in line with what is right for them, their employees and the local economy.




Will the EU Supply Chain Issues Encourage Growth in the UK Economy?

Brexit and the pandemic have been disruptive for supply chains. Between new regulations, tariffs, and isolation and testing policies, importing and exporting products has been difficult. However, where disruption occurs, so too does the opportunity to seize new shares of growing and changing markets.

By discussing how Brexit has affected trade between the EU and the UK, we can explore how the UK economy may experience local economic growth and how businesses should reinforce their operations to succeed in this new era of regulated trade.

Why is Europe so important for British supply chains?

Trading with the EU has played a significant role in British business as the number one partner for trading goods, accounting for 52 percent of imports and 43 percent of exports in 2019.

In 2019, £374 billion worth of goods were imported to the UK from the EU, while £294 billion worth of goods were exported.

These trading ties are significant for sectors including food and drink, chemical, and automotive industries, supplying commodities and equipment for supply chains in the UK.

Measuring trade

However, the Brexit trade agreement has been disruptive, with imports and exports experiencing a sharp slump after the UK officially left the EU. While it has recovered, there are still some teething issues as the UK attempts to restore European trade to its pre-Brexit high. More checks, paperwork, and higher costs are just some of the problems that businesses are facing.

In May 2021, the value of imports from the EU matched levels of January 2016, lower than its peak in 2019. However, the value of exports remains relatively high, exceeding most figures as far back as 2007. The trade deficit is also at its lowest difference since 2012. The impact of Brexit has been sharp, but data shows that while the recovery is turbulent, it is a recovery nonetheless.

Opportunities for UK businesses

The UK is in a trade deficit with the EU, meaning that more goods are imported into the UK than are exported. This is not inherently bad or good. In fact, in some situations, a trade deficit can allow economies to specialize in specific sectors and achieve significant growth.

However, as imports from the EU remain below their 2019 peak, it could present an opportunity for short-term economic growth in the UK. Businesses may have to temporarily rely on domestic supply chains to sustain their current models while wider international trade deals are crafted. As businesses look to their own backyards, could it boost local communities through employment and other investment?

UK businesses that supply transport equipment, chemicals, and non-electrical machinery could find domestic investment from investors struggling to attain imports from our European neighbors, where these commodity groups equate to 17, 15, and 14 percent of import from the EU respectively.

One UK business, FPE Seals, is a manufacturer and distributor of pneumatic seals and hydraulic cylinder parts. Steve Eillis, Managing Director at FPE Seals says that while Brexit has been disruptive, a clear supply channel strategy along with the specialist focus of their products has allowed them to remain competitive across the UK and European markets. NAME said: “It’s key for businesses to focus on their strengths and what makes their products or services unique. Despite the disruption of Brexit, we’ve been able to embrace a growing UK market while maintaining relationships abroad that limit the impact on our supply chains. Ultimately, by recognizing the strengths of our partners and clients, we’ve been able to tailor our processes to a market and supply chain that is constantly changing.”

Preparedness is key. While European opportunities may be reduced, businesses should seek out local opportunities.

Finding strengths to grow your business and the economy

The environment of uncertainty is unsustainable, as the UK and the EU move beyond the pandemic, businesses will be back to analyzing their Brexit strategy. For UK businesses to grow and to benefit the economy, there are several factors that should be considered and operations that can be more efficiently organized. Businesses that are progressing beyond Brexit and the pandemic must:

Create a new sourcing strategy

Investing in local supply chains or encouraging the establishment of international suppliers on your doorstep can help alleviate the uncertainty of European trade. Existing contracts should also be modified to account for risk in both the near and distant future.

Consider demand changes

As trade changes, so will the demand for your products. Those exporting to the EU may recognize that they cannot compete with internal-bloc businesses, but those with popular imported products may find more domestic success. Flexibility is also vital, where volatility may be a common feature of UK and European markets than previously known.

Reinforce their capabilities

Brexit means that UK businesses will have to stress their capabilities and advantages to new competition within the UK, and to their existing EU customers that may be discouraged by new tariffs, regulations, and checks. Whilst in the trade deficit, businesses should concentrate their efforts to reinforce their specialist skills and products that can also be procured through their business and trade. Only then can supply chains encourage economic growth.




Delayed and Damaged Goods Are On the Rise – Here’s How You Can Prevent Them

The coronavirus pandemic and multiple national lockdowns have seen online shopping skyrocket. Online sales as a percentage of retail sales rose by over 50% from February 2020 to April 2020, taking them to 30.2% of all UK retail sales. This percentage has increased further in the 2021 lockdown, reaching a new peak of 36.5% of sales.

With this huge rise in online shopping comes increased pressure on both B2B and B2C haulage and logistics providers. Direct-to-consumer shippers had more deliveries to complete than ever before, while business suppliers needed to keep up with higher stock demands.

This has been a mixed bag for the sector. Many businesses in sub-sectors including refrigerated food were able to grow as a result of higher consumer demands. But shocking RHA data from May 2020 showed the disparity between businesses. 73% of hauliers said their cash flow has significantly reduced, while 83% said their volume of work was lower as a result of lockdown. Across the sector, 46% of trucks were inactive and a quarter of drivers were furloughed.

Delivery issues affect customers and hauliers

Delivery problems also reached an all-time high, with 81% of consumers experiencing an issue with parcel deliveries between March and November 2020. Complaints to Citizens Advice about delivery issues trebled, with the charity’s data showing almost a third of consumers experienced a delay with their delivery. Citizens Advice also reported that 18% of people had lost money as a result of damaged or missing goods since the first lockdown, 40% of whom lost over £20.

Delayed, damaged, and missing goods have an impact on everyone involved. A Voxware study has shown 30% of consumers are less likely to shop with a vendor who hasn’t delivered on time. This has doubled from 15% in 2016, evidencing the increasingly high demands of consumers. If you lose a customer’s parcel, this can cost £5,300 per delivery. This dramatically impacts retailers who rely on haulage firms to deliver their goods, but it also spells bad news for hauliers.

B2B logistics providers may find that businesses that can’t maintain adequate stock levels will stop trading with them. Equally, B2C haulage providers are at risk of complaints from consumers, which may result in the business you provide services on behalf of ending their working relationship with you.

Preventing damaged, delayed, and lost goods from ruining your reputation

The consequences of delivering a poor customer delivery service are dire. In some cases, the loss of one key contract can see a haulage business go bust. Here are some top tips for keeping your end customers happy.

Implement tracking software

This is one of the best ways you can increase your customer satisfaction. 87% of consumers say tracking is important or very important to them when ordering an online delivery. This feature has become more widely accessible than ever before, meaning it’s not restricted to enterprise delivery businesses anymore.

Tracking software also gives you full visibility of your fleet, allowing you to identify existing or potential delays. If you can see one of your drivers is heading towards standstill traffic, you can easily divert their route to prevent a delayed delivery. These solutions provide you and your end customer with an estimated time of arrival (ETA) which will automatically update based on your driver’s journey. So, even in the event of a slightly delayed delivery, your customer will be kept in the loop, resulting in fewer calls and complaints to your back office.

Consider haulier-specific insurance

Many of the issues that cause delayed, damaged, or even lost goods are out of your control. In serious situations, your vehicles could break down or your goods could be stolen. Even under these circumstances, consumers are entitled to refunds. It seems unfair that you should pay these costs on top of things like fixing or replacing your vehicle. That’s where haulier-specific insurance can come in. By protecting your business with insurance, you can mitigate the cost of compensating customers.

Combining insurance with electronic proof of delivery software is another way you can protect your business. The sad truth is that hauliers can face false claims of damaged or lost goods. Without a robust proof of delivery solution in place, these claims can be difficult to fight against. Electronic PODs combined with insurance will allow you to refute any false claims and give your business financial protection.

Assess your fleet for any potential issues

There are a number of ways the goods you deliver can get damaged. Sudden movements when your vehicle is in transit can cause damages. Sometimes this is preventable – and telematics tracking can help instill better practices amongst your drivers. But other times, it’s unavoidable. The climate can also impact your deliveries by exposing your goods to damaging heat, moisture, or debris.

Examine your fleet to ensure they’re adequately equipped for the types of goods they’ll be transporting. If you transport refrigerated or frozen items, your truck needs to be in tip-top shape to make sure no sunlight creeps in and spoils the food. Equally, businesses transporting fragile goods should use packaging and pallets that adequately protect the items. Performing tests can also help you foresee any issues with your fleet that you might not identify with an inspection alone, helping keep your HGV load safe.

Online shopping and deliveries have hit an all-time high in the past year. Many surveys have also shown that consumers plan to continue shopping online after the pandemic. This increased demand means it’s more important than ever to deliver an outstanding customer experience, whether you’re delivering B2B or to consumers. Complaints about delivery services have also hit a new peak, and data shows customers won’t return to suppliers whose delivery service is poor. By taking these three easy steps, you can mitigate these risks and reap the rewards of the shift to online shopping.