Agri & Food Logistics conference on sustainability, innovation, and collaboration in food logistics

    The Agri & Food Logistics conference held in Terneuzen on April 20 brought together industry experts to discuss sustainability, innovation, and collaboration in the food logistics sector. Among the attendees were Steve Alaerts, representing Foodcareplus, and Agnieszka Seghers of Foodcareplus’ sister company Remant Cool Logistics.

    One of the topics discussed was the role of technology in enhancing sustainability, with blockchain technology and digital twins mentioned as potential solutions. Foodcareplus introduced blockchain technology in 2017 as an intelligent tool for the food chain. Blockchain can help increase transparency and trust along the food supply chain, benefiting consumers, producers, and retailers. However, implementing blockchain technology in the food logistics sector could be faster. The conference participants questioned why implementation had yet to progress faster. One possible explanation is that the past two years have presented significant logistical challenges, diverting attention and resources from implementing blockchain.

    Another topic discussed was the challenge of balancing sustainability with speed to market requirements. Sander de Leeuw, Professor at Wageningen University & Research, highlighted the potential of consolidating shipments and reducing delivery frequency to balance these requirements. However, he noted that this approach could lead to more storage and emissions. Foodcareplus considers slowing down transportation as a way to green transport, drawing an analogy with the introduction of slow steaming in ocean freight more than a decade ago. However, the company acknowledges that speed-to-market is crucial for certain products, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. The company also recognizes that storing more can make supply chains more resilient in disruptions, as evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) reporting was also highlighted, with reputable food and food service logistics companies needing to gear up for CSRD compliance. The congress attendees emphasized the importance of transparency and accountability in sustainability reporting and performance, values that Foodcareplus has always prioritized.

    The friction between getting transport greener and the cost was also discussed, with many food companies hesitant to spend more money on reducing environmental costs. However, the long-term benefits of sustainability, including cost savings, reputation, and customer loyalty, were stressed.

    The ongoing debate on local sourcing, assuming it is more sustainable, versus overseas sourcing was also touched on. Some note, however, that local sourcing can come at a higher environmental cost. Foodcareplus would like to add the importance of creating prosperity for everyone, including overseas areas, through fair trade, education, and innovation.

    Finally, reducing food waste was highlighted as crucial for sustainability and profitability. The potential of better planning, storage, and distribution to reduce food waste and create significant environmental and economic benefits was noted, a value that Foodcareplus has always prioritized.

    In conclusion, the Agri & Food Logistics conference highlighted the importance of sustainability, innovation, and collaboration in the food logistics sector. While there are challenges, there are opportunities to create a more sustainable, efficient, and prosperous food system, as shown by initiatives like FreshRail, and values that Foodcareplus and Remant Cool, represented by Steve Alaerts and Agnieszka Seghers, have always championed. Implementing blockchain technology remains a challenge, but it can increase transparency and trust along the food supply chain, ultimately benefiting all stakeholders.

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