Some 40 years before the industry's Efficient Consumer Response initiative, the food industry was struggling with dynamics that tended to push distributor costs and retail prices up. These included higher labor and transportation costs and increased convenience services "designed to save the housewife's time," according to an SN article.
reduction of waste through better handling, including improved utilization of shipping, refrigeration and warehouse facilities and pre-packaging perishables closer to production areas; adjusting store hours to make better use of manpower, thereby avoiding long hours that add high costs to operations; and exercising caution in merchandising nonfoods that might decrease the efficiency of retail operations.
Efforts to improve efficiency throughout the years would culminate in the ECR effort of the early 1990s, a sweeping program to improve distribution and lower costs. Distributors and manufacturers are still building on the work of ECR in their own companies.