In prior two-part Supply Chain Matters commentaries, we tackled the topic of Food Waste and the Need for More Agile and Socially Conscious Food Supply Networks.
In Part One of this series, we provided background for both the prior and current COVID-19 industry supply chain environment. We touched upon how each food supply chain participant has an important role to play in reducing or mitigating food waste. We further povided context as to why the ongoing COVD-19 pandemic has added sensitivity and added purpose to this topic given the economic toll of this pandemic.
In Part Two the series, we specifically explored how applied use of technology in the notions of more agile food supply chains can help mitigate overall food waste. That included applied use of advanced technologies in leveraging more responsive inventory management practices, in proactively identifying and alerting to environmental conditions that could lead to food spoilage along with leveraging other technologies for validating food freshness or flagging specific food inventory for appropriate promotional sales or donation channels.
The goal is for end-to-end food demand and supply network participants to collectively address efforts in reducing or mitigating waste, and at the same time, insuring that populations that are economically challenged are not in fear of constant hunger.
Consumers Have Their Role
Beyond food supply demand and supply networks, consumers have a significant role to play in minimizing food waste. Similar principles that apply to food supply chains can be practiced in reducing food waste:
- Rigorous planning of food and grocery needs by taking inventory of current supply before compiling a shopping list, buying what is needed before the next replenishment cycle, and not buying what is likely not needed.
- Buying goods and produce from local farms and outlets, in essence fostering a local supply network that requires less transportation and logistics steps, which not only saves on emissions but can provide added freshness. Consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in your local or regional area, one that allows access to fresh and healthy food as well as serving as means for local producers to gain a steady stream of subscription-based income in order to sustain operations and be assured of market demand. Also consider joining a program for actually practicing responsible composting of food waste, which helps to replenish soils without the need for excessive fertilizers, another source of harmful emissions.
- Practicing first-in, first out inventory practices by moving older goods to the front of reach and newer purchases to the background. Pay closer attention to product labeling and determine “use by” vs. “best before” indicators, the latter being that the food quality is best prior to that date, but still safe to eat. A further practice is to freeze foods that take well to such conditions without affecting taste. Remove from the freezer a few hours before need for preparation or cooking. That way, food is preserved longer.
- Insuring you check indicators of refrigerator or freezer temperatures, especially during periods of hot and dry weather to insure maximum freshness. If food is brought outside for outdoor dining, take notice to bring that food back to refrigeration as soon as guests have completed their meals. Food baked in the sun for several hours adds to food waste.
Indeed, as global citizens, and as food network consumers, we all have an important and crucial role in helping to reduce overall food waste.
© Copyright 2021, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.
This Supply Chain Matters thought leadership series was part of a joint collaboration with Cloud ERP and supply chain management applications technology provider Oracle Corporation.