Wrap potato supply study

Rooting out inefficiencies in its potato supply chain could save The Co-operative Group more than £600,000 a year, a new study has claimed.

Wrap has revealed the results of the first pilot project under its Product Sustainability Forum, which aims to cut supply chain waste. The report found that 1,000 tonnes of produce - worth £100,000 a year - could be brought to shelf with “minimal effect on the final customer pack” by tiny alterations to quality control systems that currently meant up to 10% of potatoes were wasted or used for animal feed.

Among the other savings identified by the report were: £50,000 a year if all Co-op farms and packhouses operated in line with the most efficient refrigeration; and £80,000 by increasing the number of potatoes carried per tray during transport.

In addition, trials in Maris Piper crops showed they could use 30% less water, have 4% greater yield and improved quality levels, which would save nearly £800 per hectare a year.

“The project uncovered many things we could do to improve efficiency and we are now putting that into the implementation phase,” said The Co-operative Farms vegetable operations head Rob Hull. “There are some quick wins and some things that will take longer.”

Future pilot project reports set to be published by Wrap include a project on onions with William Jackson, apples with Musgrave, and with Sainsbury’s looking at how sustainability can be built into product design.