Making well-informed choices about the quality and type of food is not enough. Do we know where the food we eat comes from? How does it reach our tables?
This challenge is about the entire food processing, packaging, transport and distribution logistics chain (from the production site to the consumer).
Food processing (e.g. washing, freezing, pre-cooking etc.) and packaging for transport purposes contributes significantly to the production of greenhouse gas emissions.
Which products, services, businesses or logistics models should be developed to reduce these impacts? For example, can technologies such as blockchain contribute to the transparent tracking of the entire supply chain, helping to reduce key climate impacts? This is a promising technology, but one with a high energy impact, which could reduce the actual benefits.
One way that could also bring important benefits in terms of protecting the territory and creating a stronger local identity is to help consumers reclaim what they consume and get closer to the cycle of nature, as part of local self-production initiatives for their own food.
More generally, encouraging a short supply chain, i.e. going directly to the producer to make purchases for certain types of products (vegetables, cheese, meat and cold cuts, such as those available on the ticinoate.ch platform) can be an excellent solution to reduce the climate impact of the distribution logistics chain. In addition, support for local products is also a support for the local economy, job development/maintenance and socio-economic development at regional level.
The lockdown caused by COVID-19 has increased direct purchases from local producers; however, if consumers drive to farms, often located in remote locations, traffic problems and new emissions are produced. Integrated solutions for the short supply chain should therefore be considered, such as purchasing groups with collection points in residential areas or through postal distribution services.
How can we reduce the climate footprint of processing and transport activities in the agro-food chain?
For example, what if the distribution chain were entirely based on reusable systems, instead of the single-use logic?
What if the distribution of many products is no longer even needed, because consumers or local realities have turned into small self-producers, perhaps grouped in cooperatives with other individuals?
What business models, products or services can encourage these initiatives, which would also help to strengthen the sense of identity and bond with one's own territory and the community that populates it?
Sustainable Food Value Chains - FAO
Developing sustainable food value chains - Guiding principles (PDF)
Harvard Business Review - https://hbr.org/2020/05/building-a-transparent-supply-chain