Andy Cummings is the factory director of our ice cream site in Gloucester which makes the full Unilever ice cream range including Soleros, Viennettas and Magnums of all shapes and sizes. It has 13 production lines and makes roughly 500 tonnes of product a day.
“You can’t press a button and immediately make ice cream. It takes a while for freezers to reach the right temperature, so waste is inherent in the process of making ice cream. In 2020, Gloucester was the most wasteful factory in Europe. And that wasn’t because people were doing a bad job, or thought it was OK to throw food away. It was just accepted that making ice cream was wasteful,” explains Andy.
“So, we decided to drive a change in culture and mindset and that transformed not only our performance but also cut our waste. We put energy into training and maintenance. We digitised our performance data so we could pick up any issues in real time and ensure people could act on them a lot quicker.
“We also started to reward teams who had done something extraordinary each week. Each team had a silly name and people really bought into it, some names were a bit ‘cheeky’, but they raised a smile and made it fun, like working in an ice cream factory should be.
“One great example was from Danielle Proctor, one of our graduate process engineers who brought us an idea to optimise the process for adding juice to Soleros. This led to a 30% reduction on wasted juice while still delivering on the same great flavour.
“And we let people know where we stood on waste compared to other factories to add a competitive element. We set a target at the start of the year to remove €2.5 million of food waste from our production. We’re on track to deliver that. We’re not the least wasteful site yet, but we will be,” Andy says.