Sustainable logistics for the food industry
In a pioneering project, Malmo aimed to introduce a cost-effective and environmentally friendly regional shared goods distribution system for small and medium-sized enterprises.Photo credit: Klaus Post
Implementing sustainable mobility
Prior to measure implementation, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food sector found it difficult to provide competitive logistics solutions to access markets. The existing logistics systems focused on large flows of a limited number of products.
The increasing market for a more diverse range of fresh produce meant that SMEs were involved in an inefficient transport system, in which small volumes of specialist products were being transported for long distances into the city, sometimes even in the producer’s own car.
With growing concern on the part of consumers about food miles, the measure was designed to address this economically and environmentally inefficient situation by creating a web-based coordinated logistics system optimally linking 40 to 50 food producers in the region with five purchasers in Malmo and using vehicles running on cleaner fuels. The website allows purchasers to see the availability of different fresh products planned throughout the season, and producers are able to identify market demand. Coordinated orders are fed into the system so that deliveries can be made maximising vehicle capacity and reducing the number of kilometres travelled.
The initial stage comprised an analysis of supply and demand, including existing logistics operators and product flows. While the web tool was being developed, the results were also used to identify suppliers and purchasers for the future web-based market place. In autumn 2007, a large introductory training session took place and the first producers were recruited to the scheme. The scheme was officially launched with 21 producers in late summer 2008 and the first orders were placed.
Measure implementation was delayed, partly because it proved difficult to contact and recruit producers during their busy season, and partly because of the generally low levels of e-mail use among them. The target was therefore reduced to 20 to 40 producers and two to five purchasers. The web tool was also very complex and took time to develop. Many of the relevant indicators were therefore difficult to assess. Among surveyed stakeholders, seven out of 10 believed that the idea of a virtual market place has potential. Fewer than one out of 10 respondents believed that the idea had no potential at all. One conclusion that could be drawn was that greater efforts should have been made with marketing the concept.