Drinks industry should strive for better supplier collaboration – Beverage Daily - January 2015

The drinks industry needs to strive for greater supplier collaboration, as product portfolios become increasingly varied and complicated, says Crispin Mair, Director at Crimson & Co.

Consumers expect new products and variations from drinks companies, which in turn puts pressure on suppliers to become more agile and responsive to change.

It can also make the process more expensive – so Crimson & Co is urging manufacturers and suppliers need to work together to ensure costs don’t spiral out of control.

The rising cost burden.

Crispin told BeverageDaily.com, demand for variety in the FMCG sector is not new; but the drinks industry has had a relatively stable portfolio of products. However, consumers are now demanding greater variety from beverages.

‘What the drinks supply chain is being asked to deal with is more complicated, there’s no doubt about it,’ Crispin says.

‘There’s product proliferation, and promotional volumes. Then the whole industry is globalising, with products requiring different labelling or outer casing, so the complexity is coming in there as well.’

Crispin sees pressures particularly in beverage packaging, but also notes an evolving market with different flavours and mixers.

‘Hitting the block’ with suppliers…

‘Companies are pretty good at making their own internal supply chain reactive, with shorter lead times or smaller batches. But one thing that is fairly poor, compared to other FMCG companies, is that they hit the block with the suppliers.

‘Big drinks companies have pushed the price down on suppliers, suppliers have tight margins. They have to be efficient, but they can no longer be responsive and respond to unexpected demand.

‘Drinks companies want the responsiveness, but they haven’t paid for it.’

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