Food is a very important part of human life. As a result, food supply chain management is the lifeline for human existence on the planet. Whether these chains are local or international, the availability of food at the right time, right quality and right quantity is utmost. Nowadays, food supply chain is garnishing more attention as consumers are concerned about whole process, bursts of foodborne diseases as well as issues such as the horse meat being identified in packaged foods in Europe.
Food Supply Chain (FSC): Food supply chain (FSC) is a broad range of food production, distribution, consumption, configurations, such as farmers’ markets, farm shops, collective farmers’ shops, and community supported agriculture, solidarity purchase groups.
Food Supply Chain Management (FSCM): Food supply chain is a sequence of works, links and inter-dependencies, from farms to food consumers’ plates, embracing a wide range of disciplines. Food supply chain management brings together the most important of these disciplines and aims to provide an understanding of the chain, to support those who manage parts of the chain and to enhance the development of research activities in the discipline.
Suppliers: Aimed at any company in the food supply chain it is important to know how your suppliers are building in food safety into their processes. Many issues can occur when the food supply chain is very complex and many suppliers are involved in getting a primary product to the retailer. The more complex the supply chain, the more difficult it is for retailers to be able to trace an end product back to the original source. Many retailers have adopted a position where they control all aspects of their food supply chain by either owning the farms that supply their food or work with local vendors where they can guarantee the safety and quality of the product.
Supplier Auditing: This may be an internal audit performed by the supplier themselves, or an audit performed by a third party. If the audit is internal, then the retailer should clearly specify what is required as part of the audit, and the documentation that is needed to validate the result.
Subcontracting / Outsourcing: A few suppliers will subcontract work on occasion and this can cause issues in the food supply chain. Due to financial limitations or production problems, vendors may subcontract work to vendors who may not have the same quality or sanitation required by the retailer. A vendor offering cheap products may do this on a regular basis and retailers may realize this is happening until an incident arises.
Importing: In many instances food items can be significantly cheaper when they are imported. Vendors in many countries can offer cheap foodstuff due to cheaper labour and less regulatory requirements. This can lead to the consumer receiving cheaper food, and the retailer higher profits, but this can also lead to food safety issues.
The players in a food supply chain: The series of processes, operations and entities that help to take the food from its raw material state to our plates is known as the food supply chain. It is not a singular chain of certain entities but a complicated web of interconnected entities working to make food available. The food supply chain starts with the producer and the food sourced at this stage moves through various methods of processing. The actors involved in a generic food supply chain are shown in the below:
Food, producer, Trader, Distributor, Food processor, Wholesaler, Caterer (hospitality) Consumer, Retailer
TA, Figure 1 players in a food supply chain
Factors influencing food supply chains: Food zone is a very complex environment influenced by industrial, technological, economic, social and political factors that shape the availability of food, the nature of the food product and the delivery of the food to our table. Units inside the food supply chain aim to improve the operative of the chain, from the perspective of quality, competitiveness and pricing along with the necessary requirements for absolute food hygiene. These food supply chain are derived from within a number of sectors:
connection of various governmental/non-governmental actors
processing and maintaining excellence
consumer and market selections
other small companies involved in this food supply chain and providing secondary price
Legislation: The movement of the food across international borders is subject to an agreement on the application of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Also, other international standards will focus on varied topics related to food hygiene, labelling requirements and so on. These agreements and laws create a greater transparency when dealing in international trade.
Sustainability: Global food chain is a significant contributor to worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. GHGs are produced at all stages in the chain, from food production through food processing, food distribution and consumption to the disposal of waste. Hence, food supply chain should be mapped with a systems perspective in order to understand the links and the locations that are non-sustainable. Planning the chain also provides a plan of energy usage across the chain and a chance to reduce energy consumption. This may be utilized for other possessions as well.
Collaboration: Collaboration among the various stakeholders along the food value chain is extremely significant. The interdependencies among stakeholders in the chain and the wider network should be considered as potential locations of cooperation. The latest global cases of food memories, food safety and traceability have become a major concern within the food area. Cooperation between the entities in the chain provides the entities with confidence in the sourcing, handling and quality control of foodstuff. Joint platforms help supply chain partners to have an end-to-end view of the chain. Collaboration among producers and processors (with the use of suitable technology) can help reduce post-harvest food losses and damages.
Technology: The leading edge of technological possibility has taken us to a place where transparency, visibility and confidence are no longer pipe dreams. The world round us is constantly changing. Technological inventions, new business models, globalization and the movement of people have made food supply chains rethink fulfilment and effectiveness factors. Inventions in processing and transport have made products more suitable for global distribution, and innovations in management and information and communication technologies (ICT) have allowed supply chains to become more open to the increasingly sophisticated food demands of clients.
From the above it is obvious, food industry plays an important role in providing basics and necessities for supporting various human activities and behaviours. Once harvested or produced, the food should be stored, delivered, and retailed so that they could reach to the final customers by due date.
Taslim Ahammad, Assistant Professor
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University, Gopalganj, Bangladesh.