17 January 2017

UK Warehousing Association Looks at Future Problem Logistics in London  

New Report Studies Vital Food Supplies Leading Up To 2030

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Shipping News Feature UK – This week sees the release of a major new study commissioned by the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) to investigate potential logistical problems which will arise In connection with the supply of foodstuffs to London in forthcoming years. The findings however could easily be transferred to any similar urban conurbation worldwide. ‘Feeding London 2030’ is not intended to proffer solutions but to open a debate as to how best to deal with the complex logistics involved in the supply chain as relevant to the food industry.

The report was undertaken by the UKWA in cooperation with Global 78, which specialises in the study of complex supply chains, and the food, beverage and food services supply chain is nothing if not complex. One typical example cited shows a central London restaurant which requires daily deliveries from no less than 13 different sources simply to keep its kitchens stocked. Suppliers include a diverse range of sources supplying items from meat, fish and fresh vegetables to frozen produce, hot and cold drinks, paper and chemicals.

The UKWA postulates that there are likely to be a million more consumers in Greater London by 2030 and this factor alone gives cause for concern. With increasing road congestion coupled with ever more stringent restrictions on vehicles allowed into the capital, problems are certain to increase. Couple these facts with the rapidly changing attitude of consumers, one only has to look at any typical high street to see the plethora of take away and fast food establishments, each requiring numerous different, regular supplies, and the problems are obvious. There are currently 12,500 retail outlets in the area studied (the M25 ring) and five times that in food outlets.

The new report is aimed at logistics suppliers, food and beverage vendors, planners and developers, all of whom have an input as to how things develop. The UKWA states that to ignore the problems is to court the risk of a catastrophic service failure, similar to the bread strikes of the 1970’s and ‘80’s. One example examined in the report is that of the Paddington Station site which already entails a lengthy trip for any driver across the concourse making this a 45 minute delivery. With the advent of Crossrail thousands more passengers are expected to crowd the area with no other route available to the transport operator.

The report cannot and does not attempt to solve all the potential, and existing, problems. Instead it looks at the diverse options which are open to reducing the difficulties as they become more serious. Every facet of the situation is discussed, from the history and geography of the city to the fact that the population is ageing, 1 in 3 people will be over 65 by 2050 whilst 1 in 10 will have passed their 80th year. Speaking of the report Chief Executive Peter Ward said this was a starting point, not a conclusion, with the population in London expected to rise from 8.6 million to 11 million in the next 13 years, and with visitor numbers also increasing, the pressure to resolve the situation was on.

London saw 17.4 million visitors in 2016 and, with the weak pound, the city was guaranteed to be even more attractive to tourists, not to mention the million commuters who travel into town every day. The average person in an urban situation, whether visiting or working, is likely to seek ever more choice of foodstuffs with a vast range of ethnic products and innovative cuisines available. These factors go to put pressure on a city which has a paucity of land suitable for development as storage and distribution centres.

Speaking on behalf of Global 78, director Andrew Morgan and research associate Nick Morgan said that to reduce the pressures it would be necessary to introduce collaboration on a far larger scale than was currently present. To analyse the problem the team had adopted a nine point approach working primarily on six separate geographical areas, all different and looked at in a variety of ways to drill down to how each differed from the others.

At the launch of the report a lively Q&A session covered areas such as consolidation centres, the particular needs of foodstuffs by way of health and safety and the possibilities, or otherwise, of using larger vehicles, particularly in view of the ever more draconian environmental conditions set for commercial vehicles working in urban environments.

Copies of the report can be obtained from UKWA with a 50% reduction for any of the 700+ existing members.A preview sample can be seen here.

Photo: City Hall, home to the Greater London Authority, was a suitable venue to launch the new UKWA report.

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