Twelve officials from the DEFRA (Department for Environment Food amp; Rural Affairs) Food Policy Unit visited Booker’s Hatfield distribution centre yesterday for a fact-finding tour organised by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors.
The DEFRA team, whose areas of interest included supply chain security, sustainability, food composition and industry growth and competitiveness, took a tour of the 27-acre site which dispatches chilled, frozen and ambient products.
Booker distribution director Ian Taylor demonstrated the site’s warehouse management and RF picking systems which help to improve service standards to 75,000 retailers and 325,000 foodservice customers through the Booker distribution network. He also revealed the many energy-saving features of the facility, including a renewable power generation plant that uses bio-fuel derived from cooking oil recycled by customers, and intelligent lighting which has reduced lighting costs by 75%.
The officials were also shown how efficient distribution has cut food miles, with backhauling alone responsible for saving 1.6 million kilometres or 1.5 million kg of CO2 emissions.
Ian Taylor, together with general manager David MacCallum and FWD’s David Visick, answered questions on the workings of the supply chain and DEFRA policy issues that impact on the wholesale sector.
FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “This was an excellent opportunity for the department’s officials to see for themselves the scale and complexity of the wholesaler’s operation, and to learn about the lengths they go to to ensure hundreds of thousands of small businesses, even those in the most remote locations, receive the products and support they need to thrive.”
FWD works closely with DEFRA on issues such as supply chain security, emergency planning, food standards and the environmental impact of distribution.