Phil Acock in the Fourayes Fruit Processing plant

Fruit industry comment and insights from Phil Acock

Dec 6, 2016

Now that’s what I call a challenge!

According to UNICEF, around 2 billion of the world’s population are children. That fact got me thinking about the enormous logistical challenge facing Santa this year.

2 billion children, 7 continents, 196 countries. Although Taiwan is not recognised as an independent country by several nations, I’m including it not least because it’s very definitely on President-Elect Donald Trump’s agenda!

As if that scale of logistical challenge wasn’t bad enough, does Santa have a fleet of aircraft? A fleet of ships? Even a fleet of lorries? No. What Santa has is a sleigh. That’s it, a single, solitary sleigh; albeit one with considerable horse power (or, more accurately, reindeer power) in the form of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and the more recently added equivalent of a turbo-charger - Rudolph.

I’ve always considered our logistics team to be pretty good but I’d certainly like to meet the person in charge of Santa’s planning; and I’m not even sure if Santa uses a pc!

On a more serious note, logistics is certainly something that’s critical to our business.

Working with fresh produce as a raw material means that, to ensure maximum possible useable life on all our fresh Bramley apple cuts, wasting time is simply not an option.

We already offer the best shelf life in the business for fresh Bramley apple at P+6 (Production plus 6 days). In fact we worked hard over many years, and a myriad testing and trials, to achieve industry-leading shelf life; but that’s only of real value if product is delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible.

We’d be the first to admit that it’s not easy to be perfect so, in recent months, we’ve undertaken a radical review of our transport planning.

Our MRP system includes an application that co-ordinates production, chilling and transport in real-time to minimise delays and optimise call-off and delivery.

But that’s only one part of the equation.

Those of you who know us well will also know that the Bramley apples we farm here at Fourayes are grown especially for long-term storage – enabling us to have fresh English Bramley apple available all year round. Managing the stores (from ‘barn’ stores to ‘ultra-low oxygen’ stores) is a major logistical exercise in its own right: open a store too early and there’s a risk of wastage, too late and the optimum time for that store might be exceeded.

We’ve also been seeking to optimise our route planning so that fresh product is in transit for the least possible time. Not only does that ensure that our fresh products arrive in tip-top condition, it’s also helping us to meet our environmental goals.

Whilst I’m not sure we’re yet up to the challenge that Santa faces every Christmas, I do know that thanks to our logistics planning and transport review, we’re certainly well on our way!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year
From Phil and everyone at Fourayes

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