Food & Beverage
Supply Chain Optimisation

 

The food industry is important for the Australian economy with 15% of the Australian workforce being involved in food production and food exports of $30.5 billion annually. The National Food Plan White Paper states: “Our vision for Australia’s food system is a sustainable, globally competitive, resilient food supply supporting access to nutritious and affordable food”. To make this a reality, i.e, to grow Australia’s food industry and to increase Australia’s food exports, safe, sustainable, and cost-effective food supply chains willbe vital. The Food & Beverage Supply Chain Optimisation ITTC will train the next generation of multidisciplinary researchers capable of designing, building, and managing these supply chains.

 

Fifteen percent of the Australian workforce is involved in food production. Food creation is the biggest employer in rural and regional communities. Australia exports more than $30 billion worth of food annually. Clearly, the food industry is important to the Australian economy. A growing world population leads to increased demand for food. Asia’s growing middle-class continues to seek more and higher
value food products and services. Clearly, there are huge economic opportunities for the Australian food industry. Australia’s 2013 National Food Plan white paper states as a goal to 2025: “The value of Australia’s agriculture and food-related exports will have increased by 45 per cent (in real terms), contributing to an increase in our gross domestic product.” To make these aspirations a reality and to
increase the value of food exports, safe, sustainable, and cost-effective food supply chains will be vital. The Food & Beverage Supply Chain Optimisation Industrial Transformation Training Centre focuses on training the next generation of multi-disciplinary researchers capable of designing, building, and managing these supply chains.

 

The storage and distribution of food and beverages is different from the storage and distribution of other products. Food products show continuous quality changes throughout the supply chain, depending on many factors, including temperature, handling technology used, number of handling events, packaging technology, life-extending treatments applied, and, of course, time, all the way until final consumption. In fact, roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year. Hence, quality requires central consideration in food supply chains. Furthermore, the limited shelf lives of many food products, the requirements with regard to temperature and humidity, the possible interaction effects between food products, the restricted delivery windows, the high customer expectations, and the low profit margins makes designing costeffective food supply chains critical, but extremely challenging. The unique challenges encountered in food and beverage supply chains require unique solutions. The Food & Beverage Supply Chain Optimisation Industrial Transformation Training Centre focuses on training and graduating researchers with the knowledge and skills to develop these unique solutions.

 

The food and beverage supply chains of the future will face many challenges, such as climate change, population growth, changing economic conditions, competition for resources and changing dietary requirements. But there will also be unprecedented opportunities. By 2050 world food consumption is expected to be 75 per cent higher than in 2007, and almost half of this increased demand will come from China alone. The Australian food industry is in a position to capitalize on its current reputation as a trusted and reliable provider of staple foods and its proximity to one of the largest and fasted growing markets. There is an opportunity to supply growing markets with high-value food products that meet increasing preferences for safe, premium goods. However, to be successful safe food supply chains capable of supplying high quality and diverse food in a sustainable and affordable manner have to be designed and operated. The Food & Beverage Supply Chain Optimisation Industrial Transformation Training Centre aims to make this possible by training a cadre of well-rounded, multi-disciplinary researchers completing research projects developing the scientific underpinnings of the next generation of food and beverage supply chains. A central characteristic of many food supply chains is temperature control. For a wide variety of products, temperature control is essential for managing food quality and food safety. However, controlling temperature requires energy and this leads to sustainability concerns. It is increasingly evident that market and regulatory sustainability drivers will shape the organization and operation of the supply chains of the future. Food and beverage supply chains are at the forefront of this development. Consequently, the study and development of innovative designs for cost-effective and sustainable food supply chains will be a primary research focus of the proposed Food & Beverage Supply Chain Optimisation Industrial Transformation Training Centre. There is a fundamental trade-off in food supply chains that is not found in most other supply chains: the trade-off between delivered product quality and manufacturing and logistics cost. Delivering acceptable product quality to the consumer (as opposed to highest possible product quality) may allow a reduction in both manufacturing and logistics cost as well as a decrease in carbon footprint.

© 2014 by ARC Training Centre for Food & Beverage Supply Chain Optimisation.