Collaboration to reduce waste in pork supply chain improves profit

Published on


Food and Drink businesses are under increasing pressure to improve resource efficiency and reduce waste arising from production.  By identifying opportunities for waste reduction across the whole supply chain, food and drink businesses can work together to achieve large cost savings. These savings arise from reducing waste in product and packaging materials, whilst improving information flows and product quality. This collaborative approach also helps to build business and supply chain resilience, enhance business reputation, and improve the economic and environmental sustainability of products.

Collaboration to reduce waste in pork supply chain improves profit

This article draws out some of the key messages from one of WRAP’s recent whole chain resource efficiency projects where all stakeholders in the supply chain came together to work in partnership to identify waste hotspots and ways of improving resource efficiency.  Overall, this project found that whole chain collaboration between Co-operative Food and its pork supplier, Tulip and its suppliers, have delivered immediate savings of £395,000 – and had an added benefit of identifying further oppurtunities.


Working together to achieve shared goals is central to the 21st century approach to ensuring business sustainability. Collaboration can help food businesses deal with complex issues in their supply chains and to source their products and commodities more efficiently. Collaborative approaches have been shown to reduce costs and avoid duplication, influence large sections of the supply chain, improve the reputation of UK businesses, and facilitate big solutions in response to some of the big issues. Collaborative platforms in the UK pork supply chain have a) provided an effective mechanism for companies to respond to the pressures for increased resource use efficiency, b) helped build business and supply chain resilience, c) enhanced business reputation and d) improved the overall sustainability of products.

WRAP launched Courtauld 2025 on March 15th - a pioneering new voluntary agreement to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable for the future.  Many food manufacturers and retailers have been committed to improve resource efficiency and reduce waste arising from production as part of the Courtauld Commitments 1,2&3.  However, Courtauld 2025 marks the first time signatories have been recruited across the entire food supply chain, from farm to fork and beyond including redistribution and disposal. This new ten-year framework (2016-2025), facilitates collaborative action across the food & drink life-cycle in the UK, helping businesses to become more resilient to future changes in supply and demand. A full list of the Courtauld signatories can be found on the WRAP website.

Courtauld 2025 provides a framework for collaboration towards improved resource use efficiency and will have four key areas of focus (Figure 1).





Figure 1: Courtauld 2025 – key areas of focus
Source: Courtauld 2025 | WRAP

Whole Chain Resource Use Efficiency

Whole chain projects are a team effort where partners identify the root causes of each resource hotspot, brainstorm potential solutions and agree improvements to generate resource efficiencies. WRAP have initiated a programme of whole chain resource efficiency Pathfinder projects covering a range of agricultural products.  Case studies for each of the Pathfinder projects can be found on the WRAP website for onions, apples and potatoes. ADAS, in collaboration with Oakdene Hollins, worked as part of a team of stakeholders in each of these projects.

WRAP’s recent work has focused on protein sources with pork identified as one of the top fifty significant grocery products from an environmental impact perspective.1


Case Study:  The Pork Whole Chain Resource Efficiency project      (Tulip and the Co-operative Food Group).

This project focused on the Co-operative Food Group’s pork supply chain involving Tulip (the UK’s largest pork producer) and their pig farmer suppliers. In particular, the Co-operative Food / Tulip team chose to focus this project on bacon sold in the Co-operative Food stores as own label.


The methodology used within the project included a ‘lean manufacturing’ or continuous improvement approach, which is a systematic method to look strategically at resource use across the whole supply chain, so as to eliminate all forms of waste within a process.

The approach determined what the end customer perceives as value and then developed a value stream map (VSM) to analyse the value added and non-value added tasks and activities along the whole supply chain from start to finish. The objective was to identify, quantify and eliminate / minimise the non-value added tasks and hence reduce the associated environmental impacts.

This method was used in this project to help focus efforts on the most significant resources used in the supply of pork. ADAS provided technical expertise on pig production and feeding systems, and provided insight and interpretation of the various routes of supply chain losses between the producer and the abattoir. Oakdene Hollins complemented this near farm expertise with an in-depth understanding of processing / manufacturing operations. 


The major hotspots in resource use uncovered as a result of this investigation spanned five key areas as seen in Figure 2. For each waste hotspot the project team proposed a means of using fewer resources in the future supply chain. More detail on this project will soon be released on the WRAP website.



Key Hotspot – GHG emissions from the use of feed on farm

Livestock feed represents a substantial opportunity for reducing emissions since it is still the primary carbon hotspot, representing 78% of all emissions from farm.2 There is no one size fits all approach in reducing this but there are two typical pathways to achieving reductions. 

Changes to feed ingredients, such as replacement of soya with home grown protein sources, or substitution of cereals with former food products diverted to animal feed rather than becoming waste can make a major contribution to lowering emissions. For example, substitution of soya with home produced peas and beans can lower Global Warming potential (GWP) by between 15 and 33%.3

Alongside making changes to the composition of the feed itself, improved efficiency of feed use on farm can make a major contribution to lowering on-farm emissions. Feed wastage losses identified on farm can be as high as 15%, depending on method of feed delivery and pig production system.4 In addition, precision feeding systems that match nutrient supply more closely to pigs’ requirements for optimum growth can result in substantial feed savings, although demand high initial capital investment.5


2 AHDB. An update on the roadmap for the English pig industry. January 2014).
3 BPEX RIA 6 Life Cycle Assessment, Katie Stephen, July 2011
4 (AHDB. Feed efficiency on-farm check. Knowledge transfer bulleting 9).
5 BPEX Innovation Conference, June 2015

Successfully reducing the GHG emissions from pig feed

AHDB Pork reports that between 2008 and 2012 the climate impact of pig feed has been reduced by 34% (from 4.45kg CO2e per kg pork produced to 2.92kg CO2e per kg pork produced). This is an example of a category wide improvement brought about through a collaborative platform. The main reasons cited were: 

  • Increased inclusion rates of food and drink industry co-products (including former foodstuffs) in rations at levels above 40%,

  • Halving of soya use which is now down to less than 10% content in pig diets. This is driven predominantly by the high cost of soya,

  • Reduced protein content in feed as a result of applying feed technology and research outcomes and

  • Improved feed utilisation through better farm practice and management.

The benefits of supply chain engagement

Good relationships have been forged between stakeholders in the pig supply chain facilitated by the Co-operative Food’s pig producer group, established in 2013 in conjunction with Tulip.  This project identified an enhanced role for this group by providing the basis through which best practice can be transferred in terms of minimising the environmental impact of feed whilst saving cost. Other benefits included monitoring changes in carbon/energy use on farms, providing an opportunity for this particular supply chain to make additional progress in lowering environmental impact and saving costs. There is much potential to apply learnings from this project across the pork supply chain and into other supply chains.

Project Team

For more information on the approach to whole chain resource efficiency or for an initial consultation on how your organisation may benefit, please contact ADAS consultant: Leslie Berger -

Sustainable Food and Farming

ADAS provides insight and solutions to businesses within the food and beverage industry. We support our clients to develop and implement sustainable sourcing, risk management and resource efficiency strategies, generating cost savings and building business resilience. Our long history of engaging with the agri-food industry ensures we understand the different commercial drivers across the food chain, from farm to consumer.

Oakdene Hollins supports clients wanting to improve the sustainability of products and services.  We offer strategic advice to businesses, governments and their agencies, backed by sound data analysis. Our customers look to us for innovation and thought leadership, especially with regard to efficiencies that can be made with manufacturing technologies.  Our staff have excellent academic qualifications which are complemented by a wide range of industry backgrounds including in manufacturing and the food sector.

WRAP is a registered charity. It works with businesses, individuals and communities to achieve a circular economy through helping them reduce waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way.  WRAP’s vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership with governments, businesses, trade bodies, local authorities, communities and individuals looking for practical advice to improve resource efficiency that delivers both economic and environmental benefits.

Our mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable resource-efficient economy through:

  1. re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products,

  2. re-thinking how we use and consume products, and re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling


Number of views (2796)

Share this article:

Copyright 2018 RSK ADAS Ltd.
ADAS is a trading name of RSK ADAS Ltd. Registered in England No. 10486936

| Terms Of Use | Privacy Copyright 2020 RSK ADAS Ltd.