Bread Returns Management in Commercial Plant Bakeries: Case Study
Bread is part of the staple diet to many people around the world and commercial plant bakeries are amongst the key players in the bread market. Amongst the key concerns of commercial plant bakeries is sustainability. This paper focuses on bread returns. Bread returns and associated activities contribute to the costs of operating a commercial plant bakery and can impact on sustainability objectives or the lack thereof. Through a case study of three selected commercial plant bakeries in South Africa, this paper identifies the activities involved in the handling of returns as a means of exploring sustainable practices. The research methodology adopted in this paper uses literature review in combination with primary data collected from the selected commercial plant bakeries. The primary data is from interviews and questionnaire survey. Findings indicate that participating bakeries considered bread returns very significant and material given the characteristics of the industry. They are of the view that bread returns including associated waste is a current concern. The bread returns process flow observed in this study, in relation to reverse logistics, bears some similarities with those previously identified for the Swedish bread industry. Key improvement areas were highlighted including take-back clause and agreement in the context of producer/suppler retailer interface, Route-to-market (Sales Channels) contributions to total bread returns, handling and the disposal of bread waste arising from returns, and oversight role in bread returns management.