SSI to sponsor first 'fresh produce' category at 2007 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards

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SSI, a Chelford Group company and provider of ERP and supply chain management solutions for specialist industries, has announced that it will sponsor the inaugural fresh produce category at the 2007 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards. The new award has been created to reflect the growing significance of the fresh produce sector within the UK food industry, and the increasing role technology plays in enabling food processors and distributors to meet the retailers requirements.

The market for fresh produce in the UK has grown rapidly in recent years, and the sector is now worth well over 1 billion. Much has changed in this sector. Organic food sales have more than doubled since 2000 and the grocery sector experienced growth of 7.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2007 alone. There are more product variants and significantly more value-added products available. The huge changes in this sector have led companies to implement new systems and business processes, including supply chain management and ERP systems, in order to deliver high quality products to stores. Award winners will be companies that demonstrate excellence in areas including productivity, process innovation, product development and company growth including emerging in new areas of the fresh produce market.

The fresh produce sector has completely revolutionised itself in the last ten years, commented Neville Merritt, Group Marketing Director, Chelford Group. Shoppers no longer simply demand fresh fruit and vegetables on the shelves they now expect supermarkets to provide high quality, pre-prepared and packaged goods such as garnished potatoes or baby vegetable packs that are just as ready for use as any other food product. The fresh produce sector has responded to this demand, and evolved by adding multiple process and packing lines in what was previously a straight-forward warehousing and distribution facility. A companys ability to effectively manage and control this new aspect of their business has become crucial.

In addition to these market changes, the major retailers have also consolidated their suppliers, which means that many produce suppliers now have to source additional volumes from third parties in order to fulfil growing requirements, continued Neville Merritt. This increases the importance of effective integration between the order management systems of the retail suppliers and third parties, to manage complex triangulation of business transactions. Margins are tight in this sector, so ever more sophisticated transaction monitoring and cost analysis is needed to closely track consignment costs. This new award category recognises companies that have mastered these processes, and are adopting innovative practices across the supply chain.

About the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards
Now in their 7th year, The Food Manufacture Excellence Awards honour the very best food and drink manufacturing companies progress across a range of criteria: from category and supply chain management to new product development; from process innovation to health, safety and environmental management; and from marketing to human resource management.

About SSI
SSI specialises in the implementation and lifecycle support of web-optimised manufacturing and supply chain solutions for highly regulated process industries and 'lean' discrete manufacturers.
SSI is the developer of the class-leading TROPOS(tm) ERP solution, selected by many companies in the food and drink, chemicals pharmaceuticals,, and mill based manufacturing sectors. 'Lean' discrete manufacturers also benefit from significantly reduced lead times by using the TROPOS demand-pull model. SSI offers end-to-end supply chain solutions including inventory optimisation, advanced planning, data collection systems and business intelligence solutions.

To complement its application solutions, SSI provides all the services required for lifecycle support with a single point of responsibility: project management, application implementation support, hosted application services, hosted web collaboration, remote managed services, bespoke systems development, systems integration, web development and technical consultancy.

Since 1982, SSI has been providing competitive advantage to a client base operating in the mid market, including small companies and subsidiaries of multinationals and large independent companies: Morrison Bowmore, Burn Stewart Distillers, Ian MacLeod, G & J Greenall, Uniq, Adams Pork Products, Giles Foods, Gala Coffee & Tea, Allergy Therapeutics, Brintons Carpets, Rangemaster, Shell, Turtle Wax and CWV (formerly Vymura). Recent wins include Isle of Man Creameries and Eurodix.

SSI is part of the AIM-quoted Chelford Group (CHR).

About The Chelford Group
Chelford provides solutions in supply chain, ERP, manufacturing, warehousing & distribution, automated data capture and Microsoft technology based applications. Chelford solutions are supported with services in systems strategy, project management, business process change management, systems integration, managed services and facilities management. Chelford Group companies include: Strategic Systems International Limited (SSI) Chelford SAP Solutions Limited ; Agility Systems Limited  Chelford Solutions For Microsoft Limited and RFID Solutions Centre Limited. Chelford Group has offices in Basingstoke, Darlington and Glasgow.

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