The drinks industry has a poor reputation for making its supply chain more cost effective. Supply Chain Solutions, a drinks consultancy within the Cert Group, found huge variations in costs in operations that were similar in a benchmarking survey of supply chains of 14 leading drinks companies. Biggest areas for improvement it says are within transport and inventory management and customer services. For example, national delivery of pallets ranged from £10 to £26 an item, while inventory value as a percentage of sales was three times higher for some companies when compared to the best "Right first time" delivery performance ranged from 93.5% to 99.7%. "The 6% difference is alarming considering the similarities" says senior consultant Carl Murray. The costs of some companies were up to double those of others in similar sectors. "This came down to inefficiency and lack of focus," Murray says. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}