Daily Archives: November 28, 2013

While You’re Celebrating Your Thanksgiving in the U.S.

Think about what you can do to make the rest of the world, including the 870 Million people in the world who are chronically under-nourished, thankful as well.

As Procurement Pros, you have a lot of control over the global food supply whether you realize it or not. Money does talk, and with enough pressure, the supply chain will walk to your marching orders. And if those orders are appropriate, maybe we can prevent half of the food being produced going to waste.

According to The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, roughly 1/3rd of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year, approximately 1.3 Billion Tons, gets lost or wasted — due to losses during harvesting, storage, transport, and processing. This loss is almost four times what would be needed to feed all of the chronically under-nourished people in the world, and part of the reason food reserves are at an all time low.

And to make matters worse, the growth, and partial harvesting, storage, transport and / or processing produces 3.3 Billion tons of CO2 emissions and wastes precious water and energy resources. So, not only are people starving when there should be enough food, but we’re wasting limited fresh water and energy in the production of the food that is being wasted.

In developing countries, 40% of this loss is occurring at post-harvest and processing levels due to financial, managerial, and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities. Additional infrastructure investments would solve the financial and technical issues, and getting smart people on the ground would solve the managerial issues. If a large grocery chain decided to invest on the ground, and reduce loss from an average of 35% to 10%, it would effectively increase production by almost 40% and lower the cost per unit by almost 30%. (Production levels go from 65% to 90%. 40% of 90% is 36%. 30% of 90% is 27%.) This is not a hard problem to solve. And it wouldn’t take too long before the grocery chain saw ROI.

In developed countries, more than than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels. Faster transport, better storage, and better inventory planning could have a big impact at the retail level. The only thing a Procurement Pro can’t really control is consumer waste.

So think about what changes you can make in your organization to minimize food waste and encourage investments on the ground in the regions, and on the farms, you depend on. And when costs go down, your organization will have something to be thankful for too!