Supply chain managers should investigate three "untapped" opportunities for improving supply chain sustainability, said Christoph Overlack, vice president of supply chains, Europe for Nestlè in his keynote address to the CSCMP Europe 2010 Conference.
The first opportunity involves wider collaboration between trading partners on information and product flows. Such collaboration would reduce packaging and curb emissions of carbon dioxide, he said.
A second opportunity lies in improvements in on-the-shelf availability of product. Consumers increasingly want to find store shelves well-stocked, as noted in recent research conducted by IGD, the U.K.-based research firm, which found product availability was the number one concern for consumers.
The third area of opportunity involves the elimination of waste throughout the supply chain. Areas for waste reduction include repetitive handling and moving, inefficient administration and warehouse layouts, damage and theft, suboptimal use of the workforce, huge product variability, poorly utilized equipment, and poor data.
In regard to information, Overlack noted that less than 25 percent of data held by retailers matches correctly with product data from suppliers. Improved data synchronization would allow companies to better manage the flow of critical information, he said.
Overlack also said that governments around the world would have to play a larger role in fostering collaboration among retailers and manufacturers to support adoption of sustainability practices.