As we enter unprecedented times, we need to take a very different approach to how we proceed. This article is intended to change our mindset, so we can think differently about manufacturing over the comings weeks and months. We believe that we need to go back to basics and therefore, we have outlined what this might look like.


We are in a situation now, where we are passed contingency. The main problem is a lack of resource and the aim is to ensure that we keep the shelves stocked in the supermarkets.

Therefore, this plan is all based on:

  1. Managing with limited human resource
  2. Optimising production to ensure maximum output

Managing with limited human resource

All those who can work from home should do, to limit transfer of the virus.

Those that are required at site to produce and distribute the product should be cycled as follows:

  • Key roles should be identified, and staff members grouped for each role
  • Those that are over 70 or have medical conditions should be asked not to work
  • The remaining staff should be categorised in order of age and health
  • Once categorised, the youngest and healthiest member of staff should take the key role and work until they show signs of symptoms
  • The remaining staff members of the key role group, should stay at home or work from home until needed
  • When the first staff member shows signs of symptoms, they should self isolate and the next member of the group should step in, and work until they show symptoms
  • The staff should cycle through this process, in the hope that by the time the last person shows symptoms the first person is well again and ready to step back in

Optimising production

Given that the site must operate with extremely limited resource, we need to be really smart about what we make – to optimise the maximum output with the minimum amount of resource.

Ensuring the shelves stay stocked is the key aim, at this time we do not ‘need’ the range and choice that we have in every day life.

For example, dairies could switch to producing just 4 pint whole milk, rather than the wide range they do now. Or, bakeries could switch to just making white medium sliced bread, rather than the full range. Therefore, reducing complexity and increasing output.

If we can switch to efficient and long runs, we can maximise output. This would mean identifying one or two products to produce, depending on line capabilities.

Ingredient supply chain

Importation of ingredients has and will be further affected. When assessing which SKUs to produce, it is important to take into consideration ingredients which will need to be brought into the country to continue supply.

Identifying which products are most efficient, must be balanced with which ingredients are going to be available in the future.

Shelf life

At peak times of the year we extend (or maximise) our shelf life rules. This would be one way of reducing food waste and therefore, the number of times that consumers need to go to the shops, which in turn will help with stocks on the shelves.


If particular ingredients become limited it may be possible to produce product with a concession.

For example, where the label says free range egg. This would need to be fully agreed with your customer and over stickering may be required.

Switching position

Sites who produce product for wholesale are likely to find that their orders fall through the floor, as cafes and restaurants close.

This means they will have excess stock and human resources. Compare this to sites who produce product for retail, who are going to struggle to keep their lines going and meet demand.

If we can redirect this product from wholesale to retail, this will help to ensure that product is available on the supermarket shelves. Many of the sites who make wholesale product produce this product under their own brand, which will limit the due diligence risk to the retailer.

Sites would need to provide the retailers with evidence of their due diligence in the form of site certification, specification and legal labelling verification.

As many sites won’t be able to export the product that is sat in warehouses, it should be considered as to whether it is sensible to relabel such product, so it can be sold in the UK.

What the future might look like

As travel is restricted, the UK may need to become self sufficient. We need to keep the shelves stocked.

Although toilet roll shelves being bare at the moment, may seem annoying or amusing, if this develops into food shelves becoming bare – it won’t take long for panic to take hold. It’s not unimaginable that this situation could cause riots.

We need to take steps now and take this seriously. In this situation we should take the stance that we should over prepare, rather than under deliver.

Working from home

We have had a number of requests about eLearning courses, as people are obviously wanting to complete courses while they are working from home.

Typically, we would suggest an in-house course where are a number of people from one company are wanting to complete a course, as this is a more cost effective option.

However, given the situation, we appreciate that this isn’t a viable option.

40% reduction on all
eLearning Courses & Distance Learning eBooks

Therefore, to support you during this time, we have discounted our eLearning courses and distance learning eBooks by 40% so that they are in line with the cost per person, of an in-house course.


Other Coronavirus (COVID-19) articles:

Coronavirus and the food industry

BRC remote audits during the coronavirus pandemic

Have your say…

3 thoughts on “The UK Food Industry – The war on Coronavirus

  1. Thanks for the info Team Techni-k.
    Trying to stay ahead of the curve on something that is evolving and changing on a daily basis is a real challenge, but one we are facing into.
    We have already implemented WFH and reduced people interactions to the absolute minimum, whilst we still try to carry on as business as usual.
    Our next focus is optimising operations by simplifying range to maximise output and ensure we have sufficient resources to cope with expected higher levels of absenteeism.

  2. Simplifying range to maximise output is great, however when the supermarket you supply keeps ordering the same MASSIVE range this is difficult!

    1. Hi Sarah
      Have you got your sales team to contact your customers? I know they are accepting rationalised ranges…

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