Written by: Trade Interchange

Posted on: 27/06/19

Effective supplier management is no picnic!

National Picnic Week marks the beginning of Summer, as the country scrambles to gather their picnic blankets, insect repellent and a basket of food to share with family and friends while enjoying the British sunshine (or lack thereof).

With more people choosing to spend time outdoors away from their laptops and phones al fresco dining is on the rise, with an estimated 94 million picnics taking place each year within the UK. With the cost of healthy, homemade snacks paling in comparison to that of an evening restaurant meal, it is no wonder increasing numbers of Brits are choosing to embrace the great outdoors.


With almost 2.5 billion pounds being spent each year on picnic food, and an increasingly environmentally aware consumer, businesses must examine their own supply chains or risk losing their share of this growing market.

Media frenzies surrounding a brand can be sparked in seconds, which is something high-street companies know all too well.

Contamination within the supply chain and naivety surrounding allergens can result in damage to profit, reputation and even life.

While it is notoriously difficult to ensure food is entirely free from allergens, ARCUS® PIM ‘provides an audit trail of the steps we have taken to mitigate risk’, removing the risk of unknown allergens which can be present within the supply chain.

This enables a business to accurately list all of their ingredients ensuring customers are safe, in addition to maintaining respect and trust within the industry.

Allergens are particularly difficult for customers to detect within alcoholic drinks, a Picnic Week staple, as drinks with alcohol contents higher than 1.2% do not by law need to list their ingredients. While it is not technically necessary to display these ingredients, doing so contributes to consumer trust in a business in addition to avoiding any adverse reactions and potentially expensive lawsuits.

By using ARCUS® PIM, supply chains are able to be managed with ease eliminating risks of the unknown, as ‘The information [companies] collect is what the business needs to reduce risk and increase confidence in our supply chain.’

An increasingly health-conscious Britain means food and drink businesses must expand their product range in order to keep up with the growing trend of ‘free-from’ products, something which National Picnic Week recognises in their partners No-No Flatbreads.

However, it is important to acknowledge an uncertain supply chain can jeopardise a company’s success, as contamination can potentially occur at any point during the manufacturing process. With the average product recall costing a company ten million dollars in direct costs alone, it is vital for businesses to actively work towards the elimination of risks within their supply chain or face eventual collapse.

Whether the interest in ‘free-from’ products is due to dietary restrictions or trends there is no doubt sales of these products are on the rise, as 65% of 25 to 34-year-olds say they regularly purchase some variation of a dairy or gluten-free product.

Through Picnic Week’s collaboration with No-No Flatbreads, they ensure no part of their audience is eliminated, however, unless the flatbread’s manufacturing process is carefully monitored there is no way of knowing whether both companies will come into disrepute if the product contains any allergens or is the result of modern slavery.


While it is evidently necessary to do more to mitigate the risks of allergen contamination in the supply chain, as 88% of respondents to Trade Interchange’s survey concur, less thought is given to the use of antibiotics.

The commonplace use of antibiotics particularly in supply chains contributes to the 33,000 deaths in Europe alone each year from antibiotic-resistant infection.

Only 41% of company respondents to Trade Interchange’s survey claimed to monitor antibiotic use within the supply chain, leaving a staggering 59% of businesses unaware of their suppliers’ antibiotic usage.

No picnic is complete without ham sandwiches, however, the last thing customers want to consider is the volume of antibiotics contained within their filling.

Working to eliminate the use of antibiotics in supply chains ensures businesses are not left one sandwich short of a picnic.


Customers are becoming more conscientious of the products they buy not only for allergen reasons but also due to the sustainability of the product and the company’s impact on the environment.

The food and drink market currently accounts for 20% of the UK’s CO2 emissions, however, with 69% of customers claiming they would be willing to pay more for responsibly sourced goods there is a huge market for sustainably produced food and drinks.

Ethically-labelled products have surpassed health food and beverages, proving there is a huge market for environmentally friendly goods.

With hordes of shoppers clamouring for sustainable food to fill both their shopping and picnic baskets, businesses must listen to their customers and become more environmentally aware in order to avoid falling behind in the sustainability race.

Increasing numbers of ethically-minded customers lead to a closer examination of businesses’ supply chains, which pose a threat to any company unable to provide evidence of their sustainability methods at each point throughout their manufacturing process.

Society’s shift towards sustainability not only impacts food and drink markets, as plastic packaging also poses a threat to the environment and businesses in any sector.

The impact plastic has on land and sea is inescapable; more than eight million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped in our oceans each year in addition to the plastic residing in the stomach of 90% of all sea birds. The Product Information Management plug-in for ARCUS® SIM enables companies to monitor how much plastic is used throughout their production process allowing consumers to enjoy Picnic Week while being guilt and plastic-free, and businesses to enjoy their sustainability and increasing sales.

Customers believe ‘ARCUS® SIM allows us to effectively manage compliance risks in our supply chains worldwide such as quality and Corporate and Social responsibility’, leading to more profitable businesses and a more sustainable environment.

Picnic Week’s partner FareShare encourages sustainability as they work to redistribute over a quarter of a million tonnes of edible food which is thrown away in the UK in order to provide almost 10, 000 charities with fresh produce instead. By supplying 36 million meals FareShare saved the charity sector over £28 million, generating socially responsible customers’ support for both National Picnic Week and the food redistribution charity.

Modern Slavery

Modern slavery can be found in the supply chain of a multitude of products, many of which can be found within family picnics.

While slavery is not often your first thought while eating slightly melted chocolate sunbathing in the great outdoors, it is likely that unethically produced products are likely to surround you.

Mismanagement of supply chains can lead to chocolate being manufactured as a result of the 40.3 million people globally involved in modern slavery, something which is not so sweet to consider while enjoying Picnic Week.

From the food you eat to the blanket upon which you sit, there is no guarantee it has been manufactured without modern slavery, unless the company from which it was bought has evidence of a detailed and complete supply chain; something which is a picnic to manage with the help of ARCUS® SIM and its multitude of plug-ins.

An increasingly globalised supply chain coupled with a lack of regulations protecting workers in some countries leads to unreliability surrounding thousands of products, and even more uncertainty for the companies through which they are sold.

How can ARCUS® help with these issues?

ARCUS® SIM and ARCUS® PIM revolutionise the way in which supply chains are managed, as the responsibility is placed upon the suppliers to ensure their adherence to regulatory guidelines.

Businesses are able to tailor their supplier questionnaires based on the biggest risks for their company, protecting their reputation as well as their profits.

Historically, our customers’ supply chains were notoriously difficult to manage, for example, as ‘The original system was paper-based and required four signatures for approval, buyers would spend ages chasing paper around the business. It was difficult to keep track of how the agreements were progressing and each department had its own method or system of tracking.’ says Rob Luckhurst, Category Procurement Director at Brakes.

While paper-based supply chains are no picnic, ARCUS® SIM allows businesses to be fully in control of their cloud-based system saving time, money, and most importantly your brand’s reputation.

No company is without challenges or risks, however, ‘Trade Interchange’s ARCUS® modules […] continue to be essential in aiding our teams to manage the complex challenges of allergens, antibiotic use and sustainability whilst helping us to monitor and prevent modern slavery within our supply chain’ says Dan Urwin, Head of Procurement & Supply Chain Performance at Whitbread, ensuring businesses reputations are protected in addition to their customers and workers.

In an era of transparency, businesses rely on trust, as consumers shopping habits are increasingly determined by a company’s responsibility for sourcing and other ethical decisions.

Awareness of social and corporate responsibility is constantly growing as consumers continue to question the provenance of products, incentivising companies to stay one step ahead or face a loss in profits.

Businesses continually need to stay one step ahead and prove their ethical sourcing, a disconcerting task before ARCUS® SIM provided companies with a 360˚ view of their supply chain.

The cloud-based system places responsibility on the suppliers to ensure all of their documents are correct, up to date and compliant with latest regulations which are then centrally stored, providing remote access significantly reducing risk, human error and the administrative burden.

This seamless approach to managing different supplier risks such as allergens, antibiotic use, sustainability and modern slavery helps to establish a trustworthy and ethical reputation.

Aritificial Intelligence can help…

Reliability has the potential to make or break a business, which is why ARCUS® SIM’s artificial intelligence verifies supplier’s documents at the point of entry, ensuring the document is in the correct format and valid.

This significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to monitor supply chains, as machine learning enables the artificial intelligence to contextualise documents in the system with a 99.5% success creating a more efficient, accurate and reliable company.

Allergens White Paper

Why allergens continue to cause concern, and what you can do about it.

Download PDF

Antibiotics White Paper

Why antibiotic usage is set to become a big issue and what you can do about it.

Download PDF

Modern Slavery White Paper

Why the food and drink industry is particularly vulnerable and how to minimise risk.

Download PDF

Sustainability White Paper

The rise of the conscious consumer and what it means for the food and drink industry.

Download PDF

SIM Factsheet

ARCUS® SIM allows all supplier information to be stored in a cloud-based system, with automated reminders that chase suppliers for incomplete or out-of-date information.

Download PDF

AI Video

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now standard functionality within ARCUS® SIM, Trade Interchange’s central platform for collecting, storing, and managing supplier information.

Watch Video