With natural disasters on the rise, and late frosts already minimizing or eliminating the crops that will be available in the fall, it’s more important than ever to minimize food waste throughout the supply chain.
Thus, SI would like to remind you of some important tips that can have a big impact on keeping your perishables from perishing!
- Do not load produce at night.
When it’s easy for insects and other pests to get in unnoticed. Not only can a family of spiders ruin the grapes, but they might be banned in the country you’re importing into, which would result in your truck getting stopped at the border and turned around.
- Always home-source during harvest season.
Unit prices might be higher, but shipping will be lower, and loss will be lower still as you won’t risk losing product in long shipments, which happens regularly when trucks break down and/or get held up at the border. Plus, many people will pay a slight premium for local produce.
- Know the seasonality for key staples in every region, not just the ones you generally source from.
This will make sure you’re always sourcing from the region with the most supply, which will help you to get you the lowest costs as you will be able to negotiate better unit prices and secure transportation in advance when prices are low.
- If the perishables will be processed, re-optimize the processing network.
If you’re going to can, freeze, or otherwise process the perishables into a less perishable product, do it as close to the source as possible, even if it means using new suppliers or investing in new manufacturing plants. These refined products, which are typically denser, and which may not even require refrigeration, will be much cheaper to ship and suffer a lesser risk of loss.
- Have a plan to sell excess perishables once they reach their prime before they perish.
50% off at the store is not always good enough, especially if they are marked down an hour before closing on a Tuesday night and will not be saleable tomorrow. For example, even overripe, tomatoes are still great for pastes and soups. You could have each store strike a deal with local restaurants that allow them to buy perishables at prime at a discount before they are unuseable, or, if you are socially responsible, setup a donation program with a local shelter or soup kitchen where the shelter can pick up perishing items each day before close before they perish (and take your cash with them). Done right, you could probably even get a charity tax write off (as long as the items were donated while still edible). You may consider these ideas beyond the scope of sourcing, but you shouldn’t when you consider that 1 in 7 people in the world are undernourished and almost 40% of food is wasted in North America. Fix this. You have the power.