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Europe: Cold chain program staying ahead of the competition

ECSLA President Hans van Leeuwen welcomed some 140 executives, senior managers and operational specialists from the European cold storage, food manufacturing, warehousing, transportation and distribution sectors as well as other industry representatives who gathered in Rotterdam last week for the 15th Cold Chain Logistics Program & Trade Show,  organized by the European Cold Storage and Logistics Association (ECSLA).

Under the heading “Creating competitive advantages” delegates from 19 countries heard contributions on trends and developments throughout the industry on a strategic as well as an operational level and on the importance of utilizing a company’s unique selling points in order to stay ahead of the competition, whether through sustainability, worker safety, energy saving or human resource management.



Unilever decreasing carbon footprint
Unilever´s Logistics Operations Manager Benelux, Christopher von Thun (Switzerland) discussed the companies environmental policy, driven by demands from both customers (i.e. retailers) and consumers. In order to reduce the company’s carbon footprint but at the same time retain its competitive position, different measures have been taken with regard to different issues and in different countries.

In the UK, the sustainability policy resulted in consolidation of the distribution network. Where before the company operated four distribution centers and two temporary overflows, there is now only one site directly connected to the factory. Result: a 70% CO2 reduction.

In France, Unilever took a closer look at its product flow and concluded that there was room for improvement. By transferring some retail flows to a different part of the country, a CO2 reduction of 100 tons per year is realized.

A more obvious measure was taken in Italy. The highly polluting and inefficient distribution vehicles were replaced by new, efficient, and more environmentally friendly refrigerated trucks. This brought the energy usage for cooling down by 30%.



Trends in frozen food consumption
The European frozen food market is still gaining ground and large markets like Germany, France and the UK are all showing long term growth. France, for instance, saw a 61% growth since 1990. Germany went from 20 to 40 kg per capita frozen food from 1990 to 2010. That were the most important conclusions presented by Brian Young, Director General of the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF). When comparing the UK and German markets, one sees that the UK is the most developed market per capita , but Germany has the highest market value. Further, in the UK the retail segment is growing, while the foodservice sector is more or less staying the same. In Germany the reverse is happening.

People challenge in cold storage
The average age of the EU population will increase in the coming years, which means among other things that less people will be entering the labor market, more migrant workers, increasing labor costs and more generations combined in one labor force. Hans Kroes, CEO of Kloosterboer Group (Netherlands) discussed how these challenges can influence a company’s competitive position. A smaller labor force means competing with other companies for the best workers, while more generations working together in one team means combining different work ethics. All this requires a different approach to human resource management, particularly in a sector that is already dealing with decreasing margins and an unattractive image because of the below zero working environment.

Other presentations were delivered by Dirk Hoffmann (Maersk Line), Paul Kwakkenbos (E.ON Benelux) and key note speakers Paul Pegg (Keystone Distristibution) and David
Harlan (United States Cold Storage).

For more information:
Alien Wolbink
Tel: +31 38 452 6511
a.wolbink@ecsla.eu

Publication date: 3/8/2012


 


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