Unilever reduced its range by more than 1,200 stock keeping units (SKUs) last year as part of a bid to cut its long tail, prioritise top sellers and reduce waste, supply chain bosses have revealed.
Details of the project are outlined in the case studies section of a new ECR UK guide launched at last week’s IGD supply chain summit in London.
The range rationalisation removed a huge amount of complexity in Unilever’s supply chain operations, reduced the risk of overstocks and waste, and enabled staff to spend more time on forecasting for its top sellers and building collaborative forecasts with customers, customer service director Simon Bailey told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
Having fewer SKUs meant fewer size or flavour changes – and fewer changeovers – which also meant that more production lines could be dedicated to single variants, increasing factory efficiency, he added.
The amount of product and packaging waste sent to landfill or recovery due to obsolescence in Unilever’s ambient food business was slashed from 486t in 2009 to 122t in 2010.
Practical tools and advice
The new ECR UK waste prevention guide is designed to help manufacturers and retailers identify ways to reduce waste, and redistribute, recycle or recover it where elimination is not possible.
The guide contains practical advice on waste reduction plus a wealth of information about everything from anaerobic digestion, composting, rendering and energy recovery to mechanical heat treatment.
The large list of case studies on the site also highlights how firms in the sector from Asda to Lactalis-Nestlé Chilled Dairy UK have found more creative ways to avoid waste through range rationalisation, different case sizes, re-structuring their supply chain planning teams and designing new packaging formats.