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Member Spotlight: Commodity Centre

Andy GreavesAndy Greaves,

Warehouse Manager, Great Braxted site.


Commodity Centre is a market leader in designing, delivering and managing soft commodity supply chain solutions. We encompass everything from shipping, handling, storage and distribution through to value-added services such as lab testing, sampling, grading and cleaning. With operations based throughout the UK, Amsterdam and Antwerp we have over 3.5m sqft of dedicated storage, handling more than half a million tonnes of goods a year. With over 30 years’ unrivalled experience in soft commodities we understand that good customer relationships are only part of what it takes to succeed.

Our innovative, sustainable, and cutting-edge approach ensures that we always strive to build the best solutions for our customers. When we talk about commodities, we mean items such as Coffee, Cocoa, Tea, Sugar, Flour, Fruit and Nuts, Pulses etc. These can be in bulk loads, pallets or all the way through to single retail servings. Our clients range from the major supermarkets and retailers, coffee chains, global confectionery and coffee manufacturers all the way through to smaller independent businesses. The site has 250,000sqft of storage space across 12 BRC accredited warehouses, some of which are Bonded and/or temperature-controlled and dedicated to the storage of the various commodities.

What are you working on at the moment?

BCA QuoteWe are a multiuser site handling many products so have several projects ongoing. The biggest of these at the moment is the plan to automate the unloading of coffee containers. We’re working with a manufacturer on a prototype machine to remove the labor-intensive role of the devanning of containers. The Containers arrive from origin stacked floor-to-ceiling with jute bags. This new investment will modernize the traditional method of manually lifting the sacks out of the container by automating this process. Over the past three years the team and I have remodelled the whole site, introduced a new WMS, rewritten the majority of all processes and introduced a comprehensive new structure and training plan for all staff. The site completes around 3,000 pallet moves each shift as well as completing additional services via its Laboratory and Freight Forwarding teams.

What’s a day in the life like at Commodity Centre?

I manage the freight forwarding, admin and warehouse teams, so every day is different and has the potential to pose varying complexities. My key responsibilities are to manage the compliance and procedural standards and ensure they’re being adhered too at all times. We are an accredited and bonded site so everything we are required to do has to be completed in compliance with very strict regulations for HMRC and of food storage and distribution accreditation bodies. I’m a huge advocate of building a team spirit and in promotions from within, so have tried to emphasize staff investment and development.”

What are the main issues/priorities?

The main priorities for me are ensuring our customers have the best possible experience. Ensuring the site is organised and compliant and professional. The relationships of many of our customers have evolved over the past 30 years, so my role is to anticipate issues and manage their expectations whilst trying to be innovative and operationally efficient. When we secure business our customers stay; the longest we have is over 25 years and the average is over 10.  Despite this we’re continuing to attract businesses who want the best quality and service, with five new customers joining us this year alone.

What’s the biggest success story so far?

The biggest success for me so far has been in building the team to have achieved what we have done thus far. We are consistently breaking records with our external audit scores and outperforming pallet movements year-on-year. The staff engagement has vastly improved with the new structures and stock integrity better than it has ever been. We have entered contracts with new customers as a result of everyone’s efforts in recent years, as well as taking on additional hauliers and suppliers as a result of Brexit and the Covid pandemic. My team worked twice as hard during Covid as we were key workers in the food supply chain and our volumes spiked with, higher food consumption and home baking trends (remember the Banana bread craze!). Coffee and Tea volumes changed from OOH retail outlets to supermarket-sourced products so we had to adapt fast.

How long have you been a member of BCA and why did you decide to join?

We have been long time supporters of the BCA and joined around eight years ago. The decision to join was made through our direct involvement in the UK coffee trade and our desire to be fully represented. The value of having a trade-wide awareness through a body who would keep us up to date with policy and legislation changes alongside compliance and other regulatory issues was deemed to be invaluable to us. The networking opportunities we get on top of this are a bonus.

What, if any, BCA committee(s) are you part of?

We form part of the Trade and Logistics Committee and meet with fellow members at the regular meetings.

What’s the best/most useful thing about being a member of the BCA?

Our industry needs a single voice to be heard when it matters, the BCA represents, promotes and supports all members. They ensure everyone is involved and the BCA takes members views seriously, no matter how small they may be. We get to be involved in shaping the direction of our industry through our membership and this gives us confidence for the future and a feeling of being part of a growing and exciting sector. We also enjoy the annual (covid allowing) dinners, which we sponsor, and meeting all the various members.

What do you love most about the coffee industry?

I love knowing I am supplying the market with a great quality product, that my team and I take exceptional care of whilst in our trust. There are so many excellent coffee roasters that put their heart and soul into the bean and getting the flavours just right. I am proud we are a part of the experience that the end user gets when they drink a great coffee. The continuing growth and diversity of coffee across the various blends and roasts, through to chilled and now sparkling is incredible. The future is amazing!

Who or what inspires you?

The successes of those that have started with nothing to get to their positions is very inspirational. A lot of respect must be afforded to those that started their supply chain journeys out in the warehouses or at origin, learning their craft/products and then sharing that experience for the greater good. The Commodity Centre team is made up of an array of talents and wide experiences that really add value in the delivery of the service we provide.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter your field?

Learn the sector from the simplest process upwards. I’d say listen carefully to those that have lived and worked serving their time in their respective fields. I opened my first warehouse aged 24 and am still learning my craft. The first 18 months at the Commodity Centre were truly eye-opening into the coffee and soft commodities world. Each day in my team briefs and management meetings I try to raise standards and improve on yesterday.

Finally, I would also advise not to take yourself too seriously and enjoy the journey.

Our thanks to Andy Greaves of Commodity Centre for answering our questions.