Asda’s bakery director Huw Edwards says Asda is generally pretty happy with its plant bread suppliers and the service they offer. But Edwards believes that automated selection of products by plant bakers for store deliveries – as opposed to the current system of manual picking – may lead to greater accuracy when orders are delivered at the supermarket’s back door.
Sainsbury’s buyer for plant bread and rolls Sophie Luckman calls on suppliers to make sure deliveries are on time. “Delivery punctuality would enable us to labour-match accordingly. These issues are worse when agency drivers are used by the bakeries,” she says. Better order fulfilment accuracy from plant bread suppliers would also boost efficiency, she adds.
Asda’s Huw Edwards says he would like to see greater flexibility over delivery times from suppliers, with more deliveries through the day, and in the evening. He says: “Deliveries are highly skewed to the mornings at the moment; there is potentially an issue with store deliveries arriving in the same window. It’s a general issue of improving efficiency."
Sales growth is driven by innovative products and the supermarkets want to see more of them. Waitrose central buyer, bakery Teresa Lindley says: “We would like to see the continuation of innovation, which is currently occurring within the plant bread category. Growth in shelf space has been driven by Hovis’ ‘Invisible Crust’.”
Own-label plant bread suppliers need to ensure they focus on improving own-label offers as well as their branded products. Sainsbury’s Sophie Luckman says: “We
would like to see a greater commitment to own-label from suppliers. They are often
very focused on their brands, but there is a large customer base which is loyal to own-label products.”
Sainsbury’s Sophie Luckman wants plant bread suppliers to cut down on trunking: “Some products have a 24-hour lead time, while others are 48 hours; production at limited bakeries results in a lot of trunking of bread between bakeries before arrival at stores. This reduces store life and customer life, so the more products produced on a 24-hour lead time, the better.”