Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (A64)

IGD—Background and Research Programme



  1.  IGD was established in 1909 to provide formal education for young people in the retail grocery trade. Under the title of the Institute of Certified Grocers it comprised numerous small grocers and corner shops making and selling their own products. Its aim was to provide training in basic shop skills, such as how to use weighing scales and to cut up and pack butter. IGD created a general trade syllabus and set up relevant educational provision in colleges throughout the country.

  2.  In 1972, the Institute of Certified Grocers merged with the Institute of Food Distribution, a body of food manufacturers, to form IGD.

What is IGD?

  3.  IGD is a unique organisation world-wide. Central to its approach is a total supply chain approach with a strong consumer focus. IGD is a non-lobbying organisation. It has registered charity status. IGD's membership spans the food chain from farming through to retailing and food service. The mission of IGD is:

    "To be the leading source of business information, research and education for the food and grocery industry".

  However, as a total supply chain body it is the forum for all participants in the chain to network, resolve issues, manage crises and identify opportunities for improvement and to develop and share best practice. A list of IGD members is appended [not printed].

  4.  IGD's income is derived from two sources. These are membership subscriptions and revenue from the sale of products and support services provided to members and non-members. The latter now accounting for over 70 per cent of the total funding includes a major conference programme, trade briefings on the major retailers, publications on all aspects of the food supply chain including consumers and training courses.

  5.  IGD is run by a Board of Directors broadly representative of the membership which meets five times a year. The Board is primarily concerned with strategy, financial probity and integrity. In addition, a Policy Issues Council (PIC) was established in the early 1990's composed of some 25 Chairmen, Chief Executives, Presidents of companies from along the food chain. PIC is an advisory group. It has instigated many key IGD activities and is concerned with long term challenges which are consumer led. IGD has about 80 staff in its offices based at Letchmore Heath near Watford.


Business Analysis

  6.  The IGD Business Analysis Unit provides industry information, research and education on the retail, wholesale and food service markets through a series of business publications, conferences and training courses. The market intelligence provided by this Unit is used by companies to support their business decisions in both domestic and international grocery markets.

  7.  There are three programmes:

    —  UK research in areas of food and grocery, beers, wines and spirits and convenience store retailing.

    —  International products that focus on the leading food and grocery operators and retail markets around the world.

    —  Statistical services which include the provision of sales benchmarking data for the UK food retailing sector.

  8.  Outputs from this research which are provided both on and off-line include a Global Retailing Review, market reports on North America and Europe; UK sector reports covering, for example, supermarkets, convenience retailing, wholesaling and food service; and retailer profiles covering the key UK and international companies.

Consumer Research

  9.  The IGD Consumer Unit:

    —  Undertakes research to gain a comprehensive understanding of consumer priorities;

    —  Acts as an early warning system, alerting industry to changing consumer needs and emerging issues;

    —  Underpins other elements of IGD work.

  10.  Under the Consumer Watch programme, quantitative and qualitative consumer research on attitudes to emerging food issues are tracked and reported three times a year. Some recent themes include local and organic foods, perceptions of value and farming methods. This is supported by additional reports on topical issues, for example children's food, plus a biannual review of food consumption trends.

  11.  With the support of industry working groups, the unit develops best practice recommendations, for instance on nutrition, food labelling, food safety and food production. These recommendations are published and communicated through the conference programme.

Farming and Food Production

  12.  IGD has a broad agricultural mission to:

    —  Build a better understanding of the food chain;

    —  Transer business best practice upstream to agriculture;

    —  Help integrate farming with the rest of the food chain;

    —  Help British agriculture become more competitive on the global stage;

    —  Assist forward thinking agricultural businesses in becoming more market oriented;

    —  Help pro-active small food producers grow and prosper.

  13.  IGD has considerable experience in providing training for farmers in "understanding the food chain". Funding from DEFRA enables IGD/NFU, in partnership with Asda, Tesco and Safeway, to deliver a programme of one-day workshops for farmers and growers on food chain developments. This training is followed by a one-day visit to a major retailer so that participants can obtain an understanding of store management, warehousing, logistics and other key operations.

  14.  With support from Business in the Community (BITC), IGD produced a guide on local sourcing, identifying best practice case studies and how this can lead to competitive advantage. IGD has also produced two major benchmarking studies: Global Livestock Benchmarking and International Horticultural Competitiveness.

  15.  IGD has also sponsored the Food Project which built on the work carried out by Strathclyde University in the early 1990's. Outputs from this project include a: "Beef Industry Best Practice" report; a small business guide Working with the Supermarkets; a business mentoring scheme for small firms and sponsorship of the Bangor Project aimed at increasing school children's consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. IGD is also a partner in the Red Meat Industry Forum with the MLC and NFU.

  16.  IGD organises "Walk the Chain" visits. Participants visit all the key players who make up a distinct supply chain.

  17.  The Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food has recently recommended that IGD facilitate the establishment of a Food Chain Centre.

Supply Chain

  18.  IGD's supply chain research covers a number of areas including collaborative working, improvement methodologies, logistics and category management.

  19.  IGD has championed Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) in the UK since 1996. ECR is defined as "working together to met consumer needs, better, faster and at less cost". ECR UK is part of an international network that includes ECR Europe and the Global Commerce Initiative. Research topics include collaborative systems, B2B exchanges, global standards for data communication, packaging standards and transport optimisation.

  20.  IGD produces an annual report on retail logistics and logistics service providers. Current research is focusing on backhauling and factory gate pricing and home delivery.


Training and Development

  21.  IGD provides two courses, the Foundation Certificate in Management, accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University, and the Post Graduate certificate in Food and Grocery Industry Management, validated by the University of Edinburgh. These long standing programmes aim to develop well rounded managers.

  22.  In addition, IGD runs business courses on topical subjects, for example global and UK retail market evolution and supply chain best practice. Customised courses are also provided to meet the needs of individual companies.

  23.  Leading Edge is the networking forum for young managers in the food and grocery industry which is managed by IGD. There are currently over 4,500 members who join the network, debate through regional meetings and an annual convention, meet senior managers and share experiences.

  24.  IGD has established an interactive web-site for graduates, school leavers and career advisers. It provides a one-stop shop for information on the varied carer opportunities available in the industry and includes details of further education courses, advice on writing a CV and help with interview preparation.

Other Activities

  25.  IGD is able as an impartial facilitator, to bring the industry together to discuss issues affecting the whole chain. Recent examples have included dealing with and maintaining communications through the fuel and foot and mouth crises.

19 March 2002


previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 17 May 2002