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How logistics companies can help reduce food loss

Approximately one third of the food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted. To solve this problem, the entire food value chain – from growers to consumers – must work together. Andreas Lenz, Managing Director DHL FoodLogistics, explains how logistics companies can do their part.

"Approximately one third of the food produced for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted worldwide. This accounts for some 1.3 billion tonnes. Needless to say, an effective food strategy is necessary in order to meet global food security needs, as well as food demands of an increasingly wealthy global population while simultaneously cutting food loss and waste. Consequently, the entire industry – from producers to consumers – must increase productivity and efficiency to make their contribution in solving a global problem that concerns all of us.

"The feed and food industry has changed a lot during the past centuries. The world population is growing constantly and the demand of worldwide markets is increasing at a fast pace. While almost all kinds of foods are available at any time in the Western world, from tropical fruits to seasonal vegetables or exotic meats, rapid provision, freshness and colorful diversity are key to customers. At the same time, some 88 million tons of food are getting lost somewhere between the fields and plates annually in the EU, with associated costs estimated at 143 billion euros. These discarded foodstuffs are not necessarily spoiled or bruised but might simply result from overproduction, were lost during transport or are leftovers from too opulent servings. Also, many foods are thrown away long before their real expiration as customers trust in the date stamp almost blindly. Producing such vast food amount of which a large share goes to waste right away, consumes many resources which could and should be safeguarded.

"The more time passes between production and retailing, the more rejects and wastes are being produced as more foods rot or underlay a higher risk of falling victim to an interrupted cold chain. The time between production and actual consumption simply takes too long. As food producers and retailers handle products with relatively short shelf lives, fast and careful transportation are key challenges to ensure products make it to the end customer’s shopping cart fresh and plentifully. Hence, time is a crucial factor when dealing with foodstuffs. Also, given the mass of shopping facilities, there are simply too many interfaces between producers and consumers, causing oversupply and food waste due to strict optical requirements, contractual terms and business practices.

"By addressing the above challenges, logistics companies can offer complete solutions to help ease time and revenue losses and answer key market demands. As logistics are by far more than the physical transport of goods from one place to another, their services compile added value such as expert know-how in regards to customs regulations and clearance as well as customer service with respect to supply chains and production cycles. These solutions save precious time and resources, as fast and secure transports reduce scrap quantity and ease the burden on resources while the industry attempts to meet future demand. Plus, they save food companies money.

"All actors in the food chain are responsible for contributing in the prevention and reduction of food waste. From producers and processors, retailers and ultimately consumers themselves, also logistics companies can do their stint by making the supply chain run smoothly and quickly from the very beginning. By adding two to three days to the shelf life of foods and thereby contributing to the reduction of food waste, producers lose less goods. Hence they can make best use of lands and can reduce production amounts. Overall, not only waste and costs are sliced, but environmental pollution, natural and organizational resources are cut by producing only the amount of food that is actually needed and satisfactory."

For more information:
Bayer Crop Science
Publication date: