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US: Mathematical model determines locations for wholesale food distributors

A mathematical model developed by researchers at Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences can help business owners and policy makers determine the optimal locations for wholesale food distribution centers. "Our model will help identify the optimal locations of these intermediary distributors so as to minimize transportation costs and to maximize the number of producers and retailers that they serve," said Hamideh Etemadnia, a postdoctoral scholar and lead author of the study. To test their model, the researchers applied it to the meat supply chain in the Northeast. Their results, which will be published in the December issue of Transportation Research Record, show how optimal distributor locations change based on a number of variables, including distributor size and capacity, road conditions, and gas prices. Their work was supported in part by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and is part of a larger research project directed by Goetz, called "Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast through Regional Food Systems."

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