Grocery industry takes 204m HGV miles off UK roads, new IGD data reveals

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Leading food and grocery companies have removed 204m heavy goods vehicle (HGV) miles from the UK’s roads, according to new data published by the IGD.

The equivalent of around 3,500 lorries have been taken out of the transport system as part of a commitment by the industry to increase its sustainability. More than 40 food retailers and manufacturers have contributed via IGD’s Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) programme. Solutions have included

  • sharing trucks, even with competitors, to minimise the number of empty lorries on UK roads
  • using the latest vehicle scheduling technology, for example to monitor traffic and re-route, if necessary
  • switching more distribution operations from road to rail

Food and grocery companies are some of the largest users of road transport, responsible for one in four of all HGV miles travelled in the UK, said the IGD. The industry recognises its responsibility to manage its impact on the environment. This commitment includes individual and group initiatives to reduce the fuel used, miles travelled and ultimately the number of vehicles on the UK’s roads, it said/ 

With global oil prices rising by over 180% between 2000 and 2010, this also makes good business sense, the IGD added.

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive, IGD, said: “Meeting this latest target is a notable milestone but the industry’s commitment to transport sustainability doesn’t stop here. IGD continues to bring a wide range of food companies together to offer fresh thinking on how they can co-operate in a positive way. In addition, more than 200 transport opportunities have been identified since last September and many of the organisations have already started working together as a result. 

“Although there will always be a need to transport food and consumer goods from producers to shoppers, we will continue to seek ways to do this more efficiently.”

Ian Keilty, Booker development director and ECR UK co-chair, said: “When we first set out our targets, I don’t think anyone was sure how we would deliver what seemed like a massive challenge in the time we allowed.  

“Looking back over the culmination of five years’ hard work, this is a real advertisement for facilitated collaboration to reduce inefficiencies. For us the whole is more than the sum of the parts.” 

Chris Poole, Diageo customer services and logistics director and ECR UK co-chair, said: “This is great example of how collaboration between suppliers and retailers can deliver tangible benefits to consumers and have a positive impact on the environment.   

“There’s more to do but taking over 200 million miles off the road is a major achievement on which to build.”

The target was set in 2007 through the Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) UK programme. This is a forum, facilitated by IGD, that brings together supply chain directors of leading food and grocery retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and foodservice operators. 

IGD has helped companies meet the target of removing 200m HGV miles by facilitating partnerships and developing a series of online best practice guides. These are aimed at helping companies assess and improve the efficiency of their supply chain operations. These include:

  • An interactive tool to help businesses identify technologies to improve their transport systems
  • More than 100 case studies to show how various companies have made their deliveries more efficient
  • Savings calculator to help firms capture and record their logistics savings