Product, Service & Design Innovation
Coca-Cola Enterprises Investing £56M Toward Vision for Sustainable Food and Drink Manufacturing

On Monday, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) released a second white paper detailing the final findings from its industry research partnership with Cranfield University.

Sustainable Manufacturing for the Future shares a vision and roadmap for what the ‘factory of the future’ may look like in Great Britain by 2050, presenting the challenges and opportunities to be addressed in order to achieve rapid and fundamental change. Taking into account the findings of the research, CCE has launched a £56m operational investment plan, accelerating its journey towards sustainability in the UK, and increasing total investment to £356m over the last six years.

CCE’s partnership with Cranfield University began in March 2015, with a roundtable event attended by leading academics and industry experts. The result was a first white paper identifying six key themes that the industry would need to address in the coming years: People, Big Data, Technology, Collaboration, Value and Resilience. These themes set the agenda for the partnership’s next phase of research.

“Our research with Cranfield University has revealed valuable insights on how sustainability will evolve across the food and drink supply chain. Identifying five key pathways and suggested actions to support the sustainable journey to 2050 and beyond is helping us shape how we think about the future of our own business,” said Steve Adams, Group Director of Supply Chain Operations, at Coca-Cola Enterprises GB. “We’re excited to already be putting these actions into practice and have launched a £56m investment plan as we continue our commitment to sustainable local manufacturing here in GB.”

The five pathways

1. Anticipating the future: In the future, manufacturers’ use of big data and the Internet of Things will increasingly help to assure quality and address resource productivity - improving efficiency across the whole supply chain. Technology and analytics will facilitate greater real-time visibility, with innovations such as pervasive sensors giving rise to ‘smart’ operations from ‘farm to fork,’ supporting the balance between supply and demand.

It is recommended that the food and drink industry shares more information with customers, using rich data to optimise production processes.

CCE Example: A new £33m Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) warehouse at CCE’s Sidcup site will open in early 2017, saving more than 10,000 road miles and 3,800 tonnes of CO2 a year.

2. Providing nutrition: In the future, the food and drink industry will continue to face greater scrutiny in all aspects of business, from ingredients used to the ethics of food labelling and animal welfare. ‘Smart’ ingredients will emerge, with the potential to replace or alter other content such as sugar, fat and salt.

It is recommended that the food and drink industry continues its efforts to offer new services that focus on delivering broad value to customers, increasing emphasis on personalisation and nutrition. Using more local resources and improving efficiency with real-time monitoring technologies will also help to eliminate waste.

CCE Example: Coca-Cola Life™ has been reformulated so that it will contain 45 percent less sugar and calories than regular, full-sugar colas in the UK. Coca-Cola Life will continue to be sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia plant extract but the recipe has been changed to include a greater level of stevia.

3. Sharing the benefits: In the future, increased industry collaboration is expected to emerge, from co-creating new products to sharing intellectual property (IP).

It is recommended that the food and drink industry works to engage society when creating products, with shared IP and open innovation used as a way to protect the environment. Large food and drink companies must show leadership and proactively engage with consumers to deliver against their needs.

CCE Example: A joint challenge with open innovation platform OpenIDEO crowdsourced ideas for encouraging better recycling habits at home. As well as being taken into consideration in CCE’s own activity, the concepts generated were shared online for all to use.

4. Inspiring the next generation: In the future, the skills gap will continue to grow as a generation of experienced employees retires. Despite an increased use of automation and other technology, people will remain vital to tackling the challenges of sustainability.

It is recommended that the food and drink industry does more to integrate with schools and universities, reaching learners as early as possible. Ethics was identified as a common concern among young people, so businesses must demonstrate the role industry can play in addressing core societal challenges, e.g. tackling climate change, food supply and energy security.

CCE Example: CCE has invested £4 million in its UK education program, The Real Experience, over the past five years. To date this has engaged over 390,000 young people in manufacturing careers as well as raising awareness of key issues such as recycling and litter. CCE’s national graduate and apprenticeship program currently employs 28 apprentices across its supply chain, technical services and field sales (with a target to double field sales apprentices in 2016).

5. Joining forces: In the future, the way value and leadership is understood will change dramatically as companies join forces with customers, with society and with each other. This will become accepted as the only way to grow positively whilst reducing the industry footprint.

It is recommended that food and drink manufacturers become key agents of change, using their insight to help educate and strengthen different aspects of the value chain and society on how to achieve positive environmental impact.

CCE Example: CCE is collaborating with a wide variety of industry stakeholders in 2016 to address and tackle the issue of litter across GB. This includes the launch this March of the findings of a joint research project with Keep Britain Tidy.

“This joint research project between Coca-Cola Enterprises and Cranfield University has been a fascinating exploration of how the food and drink industry can truly embrace sustainable manufacturing in the future,” said Mark Jolly, Professor of Sustainable Manufacturing at Cranfield University. “We’ve unearthed five pathways, with specific actions that businesses can apply, which will truly impact not only their own organisations, but their employees, their consumers, their customers and the wider society in which they operate.”

“Leadership by both individuals and organisations feature strongly as a core theme throughout the research,” Adams added. “We hope others will embrace these pathways and visions for the future to help shape and transform the future of the sector towards more sustainable manufacturing.”

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