Baking, dairy industries explore partnership to fight theft

by Josh Sosland
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WASHINGTON — The exploration of joint activities to fight the loss and theft of baking trays and dairy crates capped an April 12 forum on the subject held by the American Bakers Association.

The session, held at the Radisson hotel and suites in Chicago, was part of an A.B.A. Fleet and Distribution Committee meeting.

In a discussion between the bakers and dairy industry, ways the industries could work jointly on "broad solutions" were explored.

The A.B.A. will work with the International Dairy Foods Association on programs and will share information and intelligence where theft is a problem, said Mike Florio, federal and state government relations manager for the A.B.A.

"A.B.A. and I.D.F.A. recognize that public perception is a key component of the problem and will seek to educate customers and consumers that plastic returnable trays and crates are private property and taking them constitutes theft," Mr. Florio said.

The baking group said millions of dollars worth of trays are lost each year a variety of ways — misuse by customers, inadequate control methods and tracking by bakers, theft by consumers for personal use and theft for recycling.

"Tray loss has been a problem since the baking industry started using plastic trays over 40 years ago," said Paul Eiden of Sara Lee Food and Beverage and chairman of the Fleet and Distribution Committee. "Companies need to recognize that their trays are assets and have value, and we need to put the proper controls in place to track and retain them."

As part of the April 12 forum, a case study was presented by Joseph Harrington, a consultant specializing in assets and efficiency. He described his work at Rockview Farms, a California dairy that was losing 30,000 dairy crates a month.

A significant part of his work that "turned that loss around" centered on evaluating customers and understanding where losses are heaviest.

He emphasized companies need to decide when to declare "enough," and focusing on "profitable habits."

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, May 1, 2007, starting on Page 10. Click here to search that archive.

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