Food Logistics June 2019

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Mary Shacklett is the president of Transworld Data, a technology analytics, market research and consulting firm. Prior to founding the company, she was vice president of product research and software development at Summit Information Systems.


he definition of “sustainable” carries heightened significance today as forests get deforested, soils get depleted, fresh water supplies diminish and climate change adversely impacts the food supply chain. Nearly 20 years ago, the U.K. Sustainable Development Commission listed several goals for sustainable food supply chains. They included: 1. Produce safe, healthy products in response to market demands and ensure that all consumers have access to nutritious food and to accurate information about food products. 2. Support the viability and diversity of rural and urban economies and communities. 3. Enable viable livelihoods to be made from sustainable land management, both through the market and through payments for public benefits. 4. Respect and operate within the biological limits of natural resources (especially soil, water and biodiversity). 5. Achieve consistently high standards of environmental performance by reducing energy consumption, minimizing resource inputs and using renewable energy wherever possible. 6. Ensure a safe and hygienic working environment and high social welfare and training for all employees involved in the food chain. 7. Achieve consistently high standards of animal health and welfare. 8. Sustain the resource available for growing food and supplying other public benefits over time,


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except where alternative land uses are essential to meet other needs of society. Of course, that was then; and now is now. What’s happening with food supply chain sustainability in 2019 and what sustainability trends are gaining traction?

Market Pressures and Climate Change Realities It’s a combination of new market pressures and harsh climate change realities. “At this point, no one, especially companies and their global supply chains, is immune to the effects and devastation of climate change,” said Jenny Ahlen, director, supply chain, EDF+Business. “Severe storms, flooding and wildfires all threaten to

disrupt companies’ operations and growth. The latest science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), shows that companies need to focus on resilience, or risk significant financial losses. Not to mention, numerous studies prove that customers, investors and employees care about how companies act on environmental sustainability.” In the food and beverage industry, this translates into environmental responsibility initiatives, and into responses to an increasingly environment-conscious consumer market. “Consumer demands for sustainable, universally responsible foods and drinks are coming from a

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Circularity has finally hit the mainstream.” Jenny Ahlen, director, supply chain, EDF+Business


The MerriamWebster Dictionary defines “sustainable” as “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.”

Loop follows the “milkman” model and eliminates packaging and waste by delivering brand name products to consumers in reusable containers that can be picked up, refilled and returned to the consumer.

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