Case study

Waitrose & Partners supports compliance for local and regional suppliers

With the introduction of the new Food Information Regulations in 2014, Waitrose wanted to support local and regional suppliers through the required changes to ensure locally sourced and produced products remained available for customers.

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At a glance

Using Supply Pilot's platform and supporting supplier engagement services, Waitrose & Partners were able to communicate the complex details of the Food Information Regulations (FIR) to its supply base and provide a dedicated website that guided them through the actions required to become FIR compliant.


Food & Drink

Materially important issue

Food regulatory change

Step of the process
Platform elements used
Supplier Engagement
Number of suppliers



Compliance achieved and £100k+ in resources saved


Given the complexity of the FIR regulations, we felt it was important to help suppliers understand their impact and the Supply Pilot Platform enabled us to support them through this process.

Technical Manager Waitrose & Partners


Grocery retailer Waitrose & Partners take great pride in the way they work with local and regional suppliers and the Waitrose Local and Regional Team take their responsibilities very seriously.

With the introduction of the new Food Information Regulations in 2014, Waitrose wanted to support local and regional suppliers through the required changes to ensure locally produced and sourced products remained available for customers.

The regulatory consequences were fines of £5,000 per non-compliant product on sale per day. Across the local and regional portfolio of 1,500 products, this would have equated to £7.5m per day.

Waitrose collaborated with Supply Pilot to communicate these requirements to suppliers in a clear and accessible way. 

The Six-Step Process

Supply Pilot developed the Six-Step Process after over a decade of succeeding despite the complexity and scale of retailers and brands collaborating with their suppliers.

Collecting data around the country of origin from hundreds of suppliers over a large product portfolio is a brilliant application of the framework. This is because it is able to break down such a huge and complex task into manageable chunks - the end result being a high supplier response rate and therefore more complete data. 



Applying the Six-Step Process to the Food Information Regulation (FIR) 

Step one: Materially important issue

Since the consequences of non-compliant products would have been £7.5m per day across Waitrose's local and regional portfolio, supplier adherance to this regulation became a materially important issue. This meant that the first step of the process had already been complete. Around half of our customers begin working with us at step two, having identified the important issues to their business and stakeholders internally.

Step two: Smart Goal

The primary goal of the project was to communicate FIR requirements to all local and regional suppliers and help them to ensure products were compliant before the deadline. 

Step three: Benchmark

Waitrose were aware that their local and regional product portfolio was made up of 1500 products which would all need to be compliant to the new food information regulation. Waitrose needed to understand their suppliers' current knowledge of the FIR and how many products were already compliant. This provided a benchmark (or starting point) against their SMART goal. 

Supply Pilot's Campaign Team ran a supplier contact accuracy campaign to ensures that, when suppliers were informed about their compliance to the new regulation, it is sent to the right person within the their organisation. As part of this phase of the project, Supply Pilot also made sure that alongside communicating the regulatory requirements to suppliers, the purpose and importance of the project is also made clear. This helped suppliers understand the project’s significance and the steps that needed to be taken.

Typically retailer and brand supplier data is only 18% accurate. This low level of contact accuracy means that supply chain data collection exercises can be delayed by months whilst emails are sent to:

  • inactive inboxes
  • incorrect contacts
  • commercial contacts who don't have the appropriate level of knowledge or the right information to hand
Step four: Activation

Failing to adhere to the new Food Information Regulation would infer incredibily high costs to Waitrose and would affect their ability to sell well over a thousand products.  Therefore, all local and regional suppliers had to be effectively engaged and educated around the new regulation in a short space of time to ensure compliance. 

To help suppliers understand what was required of them, Waitrose utilised the supplier self-help function on the Supply Pilot Platform. This was supported by the Supply Pilot Campaign Team who also conducted a supporting engagement campaign to help suppliers understand the regulations and which products were affected. Clear guidance was then given on the actions needed to ensure compliance with the FIR regulations.

This included category-specific information which helped suppliers to better understand the regulation without having to ask questions to Waitrose about their products. For example, some local breweries had not realised that FIR also applied to beverages. If it were not for the Waitrose FIR initiative, these suppliers would have been non-compliant and their products at risk from being removed from sale.

Step five: Data-driven KPI

The Supply Pilot Platform provided supplier dashboards that showed which suppliers progress and which of them were using the self-help resources to ensure their products were FIR compliant. 

Supply Pilot’s Campaign Team were able to target specific suppliers and tailor the support given based on their progress and use of the platform's resources. The live supplier dashboards on the Supply Pilot Platform also meant that Waitrose had full transparency on FIR compliance progress across their local and regional suppliers throughout the engagement project.

Step six: Commercialisation

The solutions implemented by Supply Pilot enabled suppliers to achieve full compliance to the new Food Information Regulation just 6 months after the start of the project. This spanned across 1500 products and 650 local and regional suppliers. The completion of the project ensured that no costs would ensue due to any non-compliant products.

Instead, the supplier engagement campaign and the self-help function of the Supply Pilot Platform meant that Waitrose actually saved approximately £100k in resource costs and significantly strengthened their local and regional supplier relationships. 

How the Supply Pilot Platform was used

Supplier Engagement

What was particularly important for small local and regional suppliers was easy-to-digest information which was available 24/7. This meant that suppliers did not need to contact Waitrose with queries.

The creation of the supplier self-help portal on the Supply Pilot Platform ensured consistent support and advice across all relevant suppliers, improving accuracy, efficiency, and legal compliance. Waitrose found that successful supplier engagement not only helped them and their suppliers to meet their obligations but - with over 5,000 answers viewed on the Supply Pilot Platform - this also provided an estimated £100,000 in cost savings by diverting supplier queries.


Waitrose and Supply Pilot ensured 650 suppliers and 1,500 products were compliant through proactive supplier communications and supplier-self help content on the Supply Pilot Platform.

650 suppliers

locally and regionally were given additional support to meet regulatory requirements

1500 products

loved by customers required label changes to stay on sale

Full FIR compliance achieved

within 6 months of project start date and by deadline

£100k+ savings

of internal resources by helping suppliers help themselves rather than contact Waitrose

Co-op palm oil image

Waitrose was incredibly supportive. The information contained on the Supply Pilot Platform was amazing and provided all the necessary answers. The approach Waitrose took was therefore extremely refreshing and provided a real boost to our business.

Supplier Waitrose & Partners

Ensure your suppliers are compliant

Engaging hundreds or thousands of suppliers at once to ensure you keep popular products on the shelf can feel like a stressful and time-intensive task.

Our platform and supplier engagement services solve this problem by helping suppliers help themselves.