Recyclable supply chain helps UB achieve savings

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Related tags: United biscuits, United kingdom

Leading UK biscuit and snack manufacturer United Biscuits (UB) has
begun transporting products in recyclable flat-pack boxes in order
to achieve cost savings and waste reductions.

The new packaging concept, from UK packaging and logistics firm Genesis​, consists of a robust corrugated plastic box, designed not only to reduce waste but also to reduce the cost of packaging due to its ability for continuous re-use.

In addition, UB believes that the new method of transport has quality benefits. For decades McVitie's Carlisle, one of UB's UK factories, has been delivering their biscuits around the UK packed in cardboard cartons, a method that has been one of the contributing factors to biscuit breakage.

These are important considerations. Food manufacturers are increasingly looking at their supply chains to finds ways of achieving cost savings, while legislation is forcing businesses to become more environmentally friendly.

What's more, UB is the market leader in biscuits production in the UK, Spain and Portugal and number two in France and the Netherlands. In 2003, the company achieved sales of £1.3 billion. Branded sales increased to account for 87 per cent of sales.

Any savings that can be made in transit will therefore be significant for the company, especially following some disappointing half year results. Group turnover at £652.5 million was slightly down from last year's £655.4 million. Raw materials prices rises have been coupled with aggressive retail discounts, especially in the UK.

"Tough trading conditions in the UK reduced the effect of a solid performance in Northern Europe and continued growth in southern Europe,"​ said UB chief executive Malcolm Ritchie.

The Carlisle factory is a major manufacturing hub of UB's British operations, receiving and delivering products from various other sites. The new Genesis boxes will therefore form an important part of the company's streamlined logistical operation.

One advantage of the boxes is that they are flat packed, and so take up little storage space when they are not in use. Product assortment is a seasonal operation - most of the company's volume is produced between June and December for the Christmas demand.

"These new boxes can be re-used up to 300 times a year and have been in circulation for the past five years,"​ said Mandy Major, operations manager at McVitie's Carlisle factory.

"They really have improved things out of all recognition. Here at Carlisle, we produce a wide range of products including assortment biscuits and crackers, brands such as Rover, Victoria, McVitie's Biscuits for Cheese, and the Carr's cracker selection."

Genesis director Ian Wilkinson said the company, which also supplies UB with injection-moulded products, was proud of its record in designing cost-effective, long-life packaging. "UB, like many more of our customers, have found that investment in our products pays for itself because of the number of times they can be re-used."

Genesis offers bespoke packaging solutions to individual clients, which include blue chip food companies such as Heinz, Young's Bluecrest and Northern Foods.

UB owns some of Europe's best known biscuits and snacks brands including McVitie's, one of the best known brands in the UK, Penguin, go ahead!, McVitie's Jaffa Cakes, McV a:m, Hula Hoops, Mini Cheddars and McCoy's, and Delacre, BN, Fontaneda and Verkade in Europe.

The group employs over 10,000 people, of whom over 7,000 work in the UK.

Related topics: Ingredients

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