Leading UK cold store operator and temperature controlled value added service provider, Rick Bestwick (North) Ltd, says food manufacturers need to get into the festive spirit now to keep Christmas customers happy.
The company’s own market trends analysed over the last five years reveal that Christmas food shoppers increasingly want to order and collect their Christmas products as close to Christmas as possible.
As a result of this change in consumer behaviour, there is an increasing requirement for food manufacturers to start planning for Christmas much earlier in the year, with March/April being the optimum months.
The surge in online food ordering, growing expectations of consumers and the rising number of shoppers determined to stay away from heaving food aisles in December, have resulted in ‘Customer Food To Order’ expanding at a staggering rate during the Yuletide season. Rick Bestwick reports that Christmas 2015 saw over a third of retail sales being attributed to Customer Food To Order.
Amanda Cogan, Operational Managing Director at Rick Bestwick North, says: “CFTO is growing at a rate of knots and directly affecting food manufacturers. Manufacturing capabilities have led to products having to be frozen and then date coded and up tempered. These can often be complicated operations with critical timings, requiring the need for onsite facilities.”
Due to the complex nature of procedures, planning for Christmas now starts in March/April and is run like a military operation with the need for onsite operations, such as date coding, repacking and up tempering. These value added services are now an integral part of temperature controlled requirements and the shift in resources has led to a shortage in services available and ultimately, an increase in rates for those who have not planned effectively for the seasonal peak.
As well as factoring in the change in customer buying patterns, the company also points out that it is important for all-year business to run as a priority alongside Christmas operations, to make sure existing customers’ requirements continue to be met.
Nigel Upson, General Manager at Soanes Poultry, said: “Christmas sales are a big part of our business and the logistical element simply has to be right. We moved our Christmas chilled storage business to Rick Bestwick (North) for the 2015 campaign because of their reputation for good organisation and great customer service. We were not disappointed; all our delivery schedules were met and the team at Rick Bestwick delivered their part of that success.”
Amanda continues: “Being able to supply temperature controlled storage and value added services is a key part of the supply chain in the food sector and if this element of the process is not fully efficient, it can mean that the partnership between us and our ultimate customers breaks down at this critical time of the year. So, with careful planning and execution we can all have a Happy Christmas.”