The Digital Sandwich: Digitised Food Supply Chain

Funded Value:

Manufacturing Made Smarter

Project Status:

Project Reference:

Lead Research Organisation:
University of Exeter

Exeter Investigators:
Professor Roger Maull

Every manufacturing supply chain faces significant challenges. The sandwich-making supply chain presents a range of possibilities for improvement through the application of new data technologies:

  • Opportunities to make significant reductions in food waste.
  • Potential for economic savings
  • Scope for improved efficiency in complex, fast-moving supply chains
  • An overarching food safety agenda that requires high ingredient and process quality

This project introduces innovative digital technologies to help face these challenges. We are developing a national, open demonstrator of a digital supply chain, using sandwich manufacturing as the primary example. Sandwich supply chains make a good use-case, because they have very significant scale (£5.5bn p.a. value to the UK), and engage many hundreds of SMEs.

This example of a digital supply chain offers a step-change forward for manufacturing productivity, consumer safety, financing, and trust. It demonstrates:

  • Use of real-time data to optimise operational efficiency
  • The benefit of connected, digital supply chains in managing inventories and reducing waste
  • End-to-end traceability of ingredients in the supply chain to increase public safety
  • Standardised commercial engagements

A cross-industry consortium is developing and delivering this project. The consortium includes food manufacturers, digital technology, financial institutions and equipment providers.

This collaborative project fuses multiple technologies, from blockchain to AI analytics. For the first time, we see the combined power of industrial digital technologies across an entire supply chain. This demonstrator shows how digital technologies can evolve food supply chains, from the farm to the consumer.