How to reduce food waste in the supply chain.
We all know supply chain management is essential for commercial processes, specially in the food industry. Besides guaranteeing the safe flow of goods, the supply chain’s role is crucial throughout the process cycle; considering factors like storage, packaging, transport and maintenance.
Currently, the problem with food waste is a reality related to reduction of food through the supply chain stages. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that around 1,300 million tons of food produced for human consumption is wasted annually. In fact, the supply chain industry is trying to address this problem through different solutions, like technology innovation and process optimization that make easier and faster for products to get from their production point to consumers.
Food production has to consider several elements to comply with food’s security, quality and sustainability needs. Technology is an element that is in constant development in order to assure a long term sustainable production by developing new innovations like bio-sensors that detect microbiological pollutants on food. Point-of-Care (POC) technology, with the help of molecular detection, is able to identify pollutants and feed data to guarantee foods integrity in an accurate and efficient way.
When it comes to product traceability, it is of extreme importance to keep product traceability because food quality can be affected when the product is exposed to sudden changes in temperature, light, pressure etc. RFID technology, with its identification, monitoring and capture features is a tool that contributes to keep food quality in the supply chain.
In regard to warehouse management, there are new organization technics been implemented like FIFO (First in, First Out) model, where products that have been for the longest time in the warehouse are the first to been taken out. With the FEFO (First Expired, First Out) System, the first products to get out the warehouse are those with the earliest expiration date. Each business has the decision to adopt the flow system according to their own needs.
Taking into consideration that a lot of sectors are involved and responsible of food waste problem, like production, processing and retail; the logistic sector has been actively contributing to the reduction of waste by process optimization. According to the FAO, “Strengthening the supply chain through the direct support of farmers and investments in infrastructure, transportation, as well as in an expansion of the food and packaging industry could help to reduce the amount of food loss and waste.”
Jedermann, R. Nicorneto, M. Uysal, I. Lang (2014, Junio 13) Reducing food losses by intelligent food logistics. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006167/
Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Alimentación y la Agricultura. Objetivo: acabar con las pérdidas y desperdicios de alimentos en la cadena de producción. Retrieved from: http://www.fao.org/in-action/seeking-end-to-loss-and-waste-of-food-along-production-chain/es/
Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Alimentación y la Agricultura. Pérdida y desperdicio de alimentos. Retrieved from: http://www.fao.org/food-loss-and-food-waste/es/