Assessment of local food distribution : challenges and possibilities for logistics development

Abstract: There is increasing interest in local food, as consumers feel confidence in such food. Local food has good opportunities to fulfil quality aspects/requirements of transparency and traceability in the supply chain due to the possibilities for direct interaction between producers and consumers. However, local food producers often face logistics challenges due to their small scale, decentralisation and integration difficulties with larger supply chains. This necessitates analysis of specific logistics systems in order to identify successful approaches for improving the local food supply chain. Important questions are whether local and small-scale food producers can transport their goods more efficiently and how they can improve distribution and its environmental impact. This thesis examined local food distribution systems to determine how cooperation, optimisation and integration in the supply chain can make the distribution systems of local and small-scale food producers more efficient and to estimate the environmental impact of the transport. The work comprised a producer survey examining marketing channels and impediments to development in local supply chains in Sweden, three case studies on distribution systems of different scales and an analysis of the environmental impact of local food distribution, based on quantification of emissions and energy use. The case studies involved small-scale producers integrating their marketing and distribution into a large retail chain using an electronic trading system; the distribution of local food in and around a city; and a distribution system for municipal units in four municipalities. Based on the results, distribution strategies for local and small-scale food producers and distributors were developed and refined. By mapping distribution systems and impediments to development, optimising routes and estimating emissions, potential improvements in the distribution system were identified. This revealed scope for local and small-scale food producers to improve their distribution and reduce their environmental impact. Cooperation, integration and route optimisation are suitable strategies for producers to adopt in order to make their transport more efficient.

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