11 January 2018

Maintaining the Urban Food Chain is Essential in the Light of Looming Potential Logistics Problems  

UKWA Summit Looks at Cities as Brexit, Driver Shortages and Pollution Controls Exacerbate Things

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Shipping News Feature UK – Food security and the continuing integrity of the produce supply chain is a subject which we necessarily keep coming back to. The 'Feeding London 2030' study, released by the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) a year ago, was an eye opener for many, and now, having realised the extent of the potential logistics problems countrywide, the latest UKWA event, to be held at The British Museum in London on February 6, will be a 'Feeding Cities' Summit, organised by the UKWA as a direct response to the new National Infrastructure Commission study on the future of the UK freight industry, as announced by The Chancellor.

The situation facing the controlled maintenance of a reliable urban food supply chain is a confused one. The shortages of trained commercial vehicle drivers in the UK worsens as the uncertainties of Brexit exacerbate the problem, with overseas staff leaving as the pound fell, and wages in the sector consequentially rising. Cities are cumulatively rejecting delivery vehicles which cannot comply with ever more stringent emission and noise pollution regulations, whilst many smaller road haulage outfits may not be able to produce the level of investment required in order to continue in the trade.

The UKWA organised event has now seen the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) as the latest trade association, alongside CILT, FSDF and FDF to add its support to the Summit which is intended to provide a forum for key industry stakeholders to consider the challenges, review the gathering evidence, identify the ‘gaps’ and, most importantly, develop a coherent industry-wide response and plan to present to the NIC.

The Budget defined the scope of the NIC study, with specific focus on the critical challenges faced by the UK freight industry - urban congestion, decarbonisation and how to harness the potential of new technologies. In the context of food and beverage distribution, and food service logistics, these are key themes already promoted by the UKWA and other leading trade bodies, which the UKWA is bringing together to form a collective and collaborative voice to advise the government and develop a vision for the future, leading UKWA’s CEO, Peter Ward, to comment:

“With the support of like-minded trade associations we are providing a platform for members of the logistics community along with grocery retailers, caterers, food and drink manufacturers and distributors, waste management companies, government agencies and industrial property agents to share a truly unique opportunity to influence the future shape of the nation’s infrastructure.”

Everyone attending the Summit will receive a complimentary copy of UKWA’s 100-page report ‘Feeding London 2030 – facing the logistical challenge’ and a comprehensive agenda will provide insights into current best practice for conventional and convenience grocery distribution and food service logistics in urban areas with case studies from major grocery retailers, food outlets and leading logistics providers; whilst exploring exciting new infrastructure and technology innovations on the horizon.

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