Networking the key to resilient food supply chains

Date posted: August 12, 2021
A man with blue hair covering and white coat writes something on a board. He is in a factory with yellow chips on a conveyor belt

A new Midlands Engine Observatory report has highlighted that our region’s food and drink supply chains need more support to build up comprehensive business continuity plans.

Anti-COVID-19 Capabilities Underpinning Resilient Supply Chains’ framework: evidence from manufacturing firms in food supply chains in the Midlands-UK is written by Professor Jose Chiappetta Jabbour and his team of researchers at the University of Lincoln.

The report measured the resilience of our region’s food and drink manufacturing supply chains against the Anti-COVID-19 Capabilities Underpinning Resilient Supply Chains framework.

The researchers found that organisations had trouble accessing resilience support, learning from supply chain best practice and sharing it beyond the food supply chains.

Those interviewed also highlighted a lack of knowledge about how to address areas of low resilience and the need for the food supply chains to be supported and integrated into the Government’s emergency planning for ‘black swan events’.

One of the most important findings of the report showed that firms which had prepared for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit and had preapproved alternative suppliers in place were better able to handle the challenges posed by COVID-19.

The report recommends that all organisations are supported to undertake emergency planning scenarios modeled on real-life disruptions, for example, the recent international delays caused by the Ever Given getting stuck in the Suez Canal and the global impact of the pandemic.

Robust contingency planning would also allow firms the foresight to pivot quickly to new markets, such as moving away from convenience food to dominant retailers and new markets.

This is not only relevant to the food supply chains, but to all supply chains in the region.

The report goes on to suggest that a strong network between supply chain businesses could be developed to facilitate sharing of best practice between sectors and across firms.

This research is just the latest in a series of reports Midlands Engine has commissioned looking specifically at supply chains.

Each provides useful insights into how prepared and resilient the supply chains are across the different sectors in focus including low carbon, health and manufacturing.

For the latest on our region, subscribe to Midlands Matters, the official newsletter of the Midlands Engine.

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