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Supply chain expert urges UK retailers to utilise modern technology solutions amid weather crisis

Gary Barraco, Assistant Vice President of Product Marketing at e2open, urges UK retailers to make the most of connected, modern technology solutions for logistics and planning. Barraco believes this will allow retailers to perform well in an ever-changing environment.

He noted that "investment into end-to-end supply chain management platforms" will be important to ease off the extreme weather influence on the stock.

Barraco explained that disruptions in weather conditions, like storms, are currently affecting North Africa and Spain. This results in food shortages and "are becoming increasingly commonplace."

Due to the weather disruptors, sellers, producers and distributors for UK retailers, according to Barraco, are forced to adjust how they conduct their businesses. He warned that "empty shelves will become the norm", if not done.

Similar reports came from Descartes Systems Group, suggesting that supply chain and logistics companies should focus on the technological innovation of their businesses.

The vice president further stressed that UK retailers risk losing not only their customers but "also their long-term brand loyalty" when shoppers are approached "with empty shelves".

Barraco didn't fail to add that the availability and delivery of goods are critical aspects of the customers' experiences.

He said, "Shortages or long wait times can negatively impact a brand's reputation."

Earlier, the Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Andrew Opie, blamed the unfavourable weather conditions in Southern Europe and Northern Africa for the shortage of fruits and vegetables.

He, however, said while the weather disruption might last a few weeks, UK retailers are collaborating with farmers and are adept at managing supply chain issues so that customers can have a variety of fresh produce.

According to BRC, 90% of UK lettuce and 95% of its tomatoes are from North Africa and Spain during the winter.

Some UK retailers, hearing this news, have limited the way customers purchase fruits and vegetables, with Morrisons and Asda presently limiting their salad supply.

Edwin Kwadwo Apau Frimpong, a retailer at Afromart Mini Market Limited in Enfield said, "As a small operator, I'm left to the whims and caprices of the market."

He continued, "Cost is high in my case and customers aren't buying, so I lose out."

Speaking with BBCBreakfast, Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers' Union (NFU), said two supermarkets have put limits on some fruits and vegetables because of fresh produce shortages.

Batters added, "The more we face shortages, the more it will drive food inflation."

The Executive Director of Supermarket Waitrose, James Bailey, told LBC radio on Monday that hail and snow in Spain and hail in some parts of North Africa had removed a large number of essential crops.

Bailey further said, "Give it about two weeks, and other growing seasons in other parts of the world will have caught up, and we should be able to get that supply back in."

The NFU also disclosed that the high input costs have added to the fruit and vegetable shortages and general production across the farming sectors.


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