Reshaping the food supply chain is in order

The food supply chain continues to be plagued by waste. Having more visibility into the processes may help reduce how much product goes into landfills. Logistics software can improve collaboration between various links in the food supply chain, but the system requires even more work before food waste  in this country can be considered a less-pressing issue.

Approximately 40 percent of the food that is produced throughout the country is wasted, according to a study from PLoS One Group. Bloomberg Businessweek updated statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, revealing that after inflation, Americans threw away $180 billion worth of food. However, there is not a lone cog in the supply chain that can be blamed for the alarming numbers, rather it is a systemic problem. This may present an opportunity for the government to step in and regulate practices that contribute to food waste.

"We are just now recognizing that we squander a good amount of our food," Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, told the news source. "The next step is getting people to see it as a problem and act."

Food retailers must accommodate the omni-shopper
 Economic realities and a greater focus on product quality are driving more Americans to thoroughly research their products before buying. With this increased knowledge, consumer demands are evolving, forcing grocers and other retailers to try catching up. According to Food Logistics, customers are calling on grocers to provide information on items in the store, how much longer they will be good for and when another shipment will be arriving, all accessible on personal mobile devices. This is just the tip of the iceberg for Americans who want to make informed purchasing decisions when they are traveling to their local grocers. For the retailers, this means they need to have even more visibility into their own supply chains. 

"A retailer who has put the customer at the center of the enterprise will be poised to capitalize on that differentiator while it lasts, and protect themselves from the disadvantages of not having an omni-channel strategy later on," Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, told the magazine.

Grocers respond to consumer demands, adjust procurement model
Food Logistics cited pieces of a report by Baird, "Omni-channel and Replenishment: The Future of Grocery," in which she outlined how the grocery sector has  not kept pace with other consumers goods companies that are finding a way to provide insights for shoppers via their smartphones and tablets.

"In a customer-centric world, sales become an outcome of meeting customer needs," Baird told the magazine. "That's a very different way of approaching the business than grocers have historically considered."

And now the time has come where Americans want to be be able to place orders online, pick them up in stores and be ensured the freshness of products. It's not just grocers that have to change the way they are handling processes, it is the entire food supply chain. Implementing the use of mobile devices and solutions such as logistics software, delivery routing software and other supply chain tools could be a good starting point for today's grocers