The phenomenon of retail-ready packaging is on the move and will soon be driven by suppliers, says James Durston

Retail ready packaging (RRP) will soon become the norm, driven by suppliers trying to stand out from the crowd. So says Keith Rosser, programme director at TPL Logistics Management, who will be speaking at a seminar on RRP in the Pack-it arena at next month’s Foodex Meatex show in Birmingham.
“RRP is in its early days, but we’re coming to the end of the retailer-driven stage of RRP and will start to see suppliers taking it on in a bigger way to increase their competitive advantage,” he says.
Retailers have been quick to tap into the benefits of RRP, which allows them to transport display-ready products direct from the delivery van to the shop floor.
Tesco has driven the trend and, having transferred 8,000 products to RRP last year, recently announced plans to transfer another 6,000 products this year.
James Lennon, Asda’s general manager for trading, says: “We don’t annotate the number of products on RRP but we do plan to transfer a lot more this year.”
Sainsbury says it is “actively looking to roll out RRP to more products over the next 12 months”.
But, according to Rosser, suppliers will dictate the future. “Particularly in NPD, suppliers are going to start looking at RRP much more. Once you’ve started moving it’s easy to continue. Seeing that use of shelf space, marketing and perceived availability can all be improved, it makes a lot of sense,” he says.
Sam Sheppard Fidler, principal consultant at Pira International, who will also be speaking at next month’s seminar, sponsored by The Grocer, thinks all sorts of categories could benefit. “You have to be sensible with the products you choose to pack this way, but packs of detergents, for example, could easily lend themselves to this, as could other non foods. The UK pilots these initiatives and there’s still room for a lot more.”
On-pack instructions for night shift workers in-store are also being altered as a result of RRP. Night workers at retailers often don’t have English as a first language, so Asda in particular is starting to use symbol instructions that are easier to read.
But not all products are suitable for RRP. A recent trial by Tesco for wine was withdrawn. And suppliers can be discouraged by the cost of changing existing products over to RRP.
Lennon does not think this will last. “This is a non-competitive area for retailers. We’re all working to align ourselves and this should make things easier and bring costs down for suppliers.”
Rosser says cost shouldn’t stop the trend anyway. “The last thing suppliers should do is resist this move. The changeover is only going to speed up.”
To find out more about the seminar, call 0870 4294664.