UK food companies slow on RFID uptake survey shows

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cent, Rfid, Better

UK food manufacturers are slow to take up the use of radio
frequency identification (RFID) due to a lack of knowledge of the
technology, according to new research.

The survey of about 100 leading UK food manufacturers shows that only 17 per cent of the companies have already introduced RFID or plan to introduce it over the next 12 months.

RFID has long been touted as the future of logistics for all companies by allowing retailers and suppliers to track goods throughout the supply chain. However high prices for tags and systems has held enthusiasm at bay. Privacy concerns have also limited its use at the consumer level.

The new survey was conducted by the organisers of the easyFairs Process Pack & Track Food exhibitions in the UK. Peter Heath, managing director of easyFairs UK said the research indicates that the food industry needs a helping hand from suppliers.

"The food industry is in the mood to innovate and to invest in areas which will deliver competitive advantage,"​ he said. "It's not technology shy, but it is looking for suppliers to explain the bottom line benefits of RFID before it makes the move."

EasyFairs said the research suggests that a key reason for this slow take-up is not a lack of need because 38 per cent of the companies say they want to improve their stock management over the next 12 months, over a third need better forecasting and 31 per cent have said improving traceability is a priority.

"The barrier to adopting RFID appears to be a lack of knowledge about the real benefits it offers and confusion about the costs,"​ easyFairs stated in a press release yesterday.

About 18 per cent of the food and drink manufacturers studied say they are at least fairly knowledgeable about the technology, 40 per cent admit that the greatest barrier to introducing RFID is a lack of knowledge while perceived cost is deterring 37 per cent.

The difficulties in the technology is not seen as an issue. Only nine per cent report that the technology is inhibiting the take-up by their company.

"In fact most food companies questioned are keen to explore new technology solutions right across the production spectrum with 43 per cent planning to invest in an array of new areas in the year ahead,"​ easyFairs stated.

The research also identifies the key selling points of RFID that are most likely to prompt UK food and drink companies to adopt it. Over half say improved tracking and the promise of more efficient stock operations will drive them to RFID. A further 22 per cent say they will investigate the technology because of its improved forecasting potential.

If the benefits are properly communicated the food industry will make the move, easyFairs found. About 46 per cent predict that RFID will be in widespread usage within the food and drink industry within the next three years.

Despite the pressures and mandates from such retailers as Wal-Mart and Metro, only 12 per cent report that they have been approached by a trading partner or customer to introduce RFID.

easyFairs Process, Pack & Track Food South exhibition is on 24-25 May in Esher. The Process, Pack & Track Food North exhibition is from 14-15 June in Bolton.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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