Achievements by the Optimum Foodservice Supply Chain Initiative (OFSCI) and proposed developments from it were covered by several speakers at the conference.
Bob Price, who represents the Food Drink Federation on the board of OFSCI, said there were now key areas where the initiative had delivered benefits for the sector.
He said it provided: data standards that were compliant with global and UK standards for item data; provision for easier and cost effective electronic transactions; and access to expertise through the OFSCI Solution Provider Group to help companies adopt the standards.
Calum Ross, managing director of Unilever Foodsolutions, said his company had been one of the founding partners in OFSCI when it was set up in 2002.
He said: “OFSCI provides a major opportunity for all parts of the foodservice supply chain to work together for our mutual benefit. Manufacturers, distributors and operators can all cut our costs by using common language and common product codes.”
He suggested savings for the foodservice sector of up to £450m were available through adoption of basic industry standards, and he added: “The more people who get on board with OFSCI
the bigger the benefits will be for everyone.”
Steve Pepperell, sales director of Nestle Foodservices, heads an FDF working party looking at the availability of market research information for the foodservice industry and explained the next stage of work OFSCI would be looking at.
He said the working party identified a need for accurate information on the number of outlets in the foodservice market and for overall sales.
Pepperell said: “By far the biggest gap is sales data. We have no accurate view of the size of the foodservice market, no idea of the potential of one channel over another. How do we know, as suppliers, wholesalers or cash and carries, whether we are winning or losing share if we don’t know what our current share is?
“How do we know the vast amount of money we spend in this market is a good investment or simply a waste of money that could be better used to generate demand some other way?”
Pepperell said that between them distributors and the manufacturers had this information, and a study had shown that if all the information could be pooled it would provide accurate data for the complete industry for the first time.
To do this however, a common standard would be required, and a source that could protect everyone’s commercial and sensitive information
He concluded: “The FDF has asked OFSCI to take on the role of developing this project and OFSCI has agreed. Whether you are a supplier, wholesaler or cash and carry I’d ask you to lobby your business’s executives to get involved in this initiative.”