Supply Chain News: Wasted Food in the Supply Chain

October 20, 2014

A great article in the Globe and Mail caught our attention this week with quite an eye-catching headline: A Third of Global Food Supply is Wasted.

Wow. It’s a staggering proportion, especially given that there are huge issues of hunger abroad and even within Canada. According to the article, written by Marlene Habib, seven billion kilograms of food (40% of all food produced) is lost somewhere along the Food Value Chain in Canada every year.

It’s been a well-remarked fact that hunger is rarely an issue of there not being enough food, but more of an issue of its unequal distribution. And the article, which is part of a larger Globe and Mail series on Canadian food security, goes into the factors along the Food Value chain that lead to food waste.

The most major factor (51%), unsurprisingly, is food wastage within households, who could be more proactive in planning their groceries, eating leftovers, and eating food before it goes bad. But as a company that lives and breathes Supply Chain,  Argentus is more interested in some of the other factors higher up the Supply Chain that impact food waste:

  • 18% of food wastage comes during processing and packaging, partially due to inaccurate forecasting.
  • 11% occurs at the retail level, partially due to inaccurate forecasting, food safety concerns, and fluctuations in Suppliers’ delivery times.
  • And 3% occurs in transportation and distribution, due to “food damage, poor recordkeeping, allowing foods to exceed their shelf life, and poor packaging and storage.”

Combined, that means that 32% of food wastage in Canada occurs somewhere along the Supply Chain between farm and households/restaurants, which works out to ~2.4 Billion kilograms of food every year.

Obviously, it’s impossible to be perfect, and some food waste is always inevitable because of errors. But it’s worth asking as Supply Chains become more sophisticated: what are some innovations down the line, particularly in forecasting, transportation and distribution that will help lower the amount of food wastage? Ummh, maybe there are some talent issues there that need to be addressed!

As a boutique recruitment agency specializing in Supply Chain, we find talent for some of the country’s top Food companies, organizations that have some of the most well-developed, adaptable Supply Chains in the country. We’ve seen first-hand how sophisticated the Food Supply Chain is (including innovations such as efficient Cold Chain distribution), and the article outlines how some Supply Chain organizations are tackling this problem. But as the article describes, there’s always more to be done.

So we’d like to put this out to Food Supply Chain professionals in our network: what more could be done in the Supply Chain to help lower the amount of food wastage? Both for companies with sophisticated Supply Chains already, and those who are working towards greater Supply Chain integration and forecasting capabilities? Let us know in the comments!


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