The importance of logistics in the agri-food sector

Logistics for the agricultural and food produce industries

logistics for food products

The topic of supply chain processes and logistics for agriculture and food produce is indeed, somewhat intricate. Handling the logistics of such products, operators are faced with taking accountability for all actions conducted throughout the entire chain. These being; to safeguard the quality and well-being of all products (including livestock) as well as to create a sustainable solution for their clients (allowing them to maintain control of their market by being an attractive source financially), whilst, of course, not compromising their standards of service. Over the years the importance of logistics for the agri-food industry, has become more recognised by organisations globally. Wherever you are in the world, it is vital that the quality of raw materials is upheld at all times and reaches the end destination in a consumable state.

logistics services for agricultureThe supply chain process relating to such goods has, over time, developed into an increased chain of services being offered such as in-time deliveries, centralising specialised production systems and maintaining low load rates. Essential success elements for both retailers and manufacturers is the efficiency of the logistics and the technology that is used. The entire process needs to be monitored effectively to ensure the correct product(s) are delivered, in the right condition, to the right place, within a reasonable time whilst maintaining cost efficiency for all parties involved.

According to the DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) Food Statistics Pocket Book 2013 – “The agri-food sector contributed £97.1 billion or 7.4% to national Gross Value Added in 2012 and £3.6 million or 13% of national employment in Q3 2013.” These statistics show the importance of a good supply chain and logistics system and how vital this industry is to the globe, not only with the prosperity benefits but also the employment possibilities that are generated.

Grain supply chain logistics

Over the last two decades, the flow of goods (grain) have been extremely augmented, predominantly owing to the influences of elements such as the concentration of production systems and the globalisation of marketing. The transportation of goods, classified as agricultural, plays an important role within the system and must therefore be appreciated and thoroughly investigated to achieve the best results. Grain transport being one of the most commonly known “cogs in the system” covers the movement of the goods from farm all the way through to depots for export if required.Diagram

It is the shared responsibility of producers, packers, processors, distributors, retailers, food service operators and consumers to ensure that an integrated farm-to-table (see diagram) approach is established from the outset and continued throughout the chain (this concept applying not only to grain but all fodder industries).

The following information is an excerpt from Eurostat (;

During the last 10-15 years new objectives have been introduced in relation to agricultural policy.

These include

  • Protection of the environment
  • Sustainable farming practices
  • Food safety and security
  • Animal welfare
  • Broader perspectives relating to rural development

New indicators and statistics have been developed to provide information relating to these topics, for example, data relating to the use and impact of pesticides and nutrients. Another important priority in agricultural statistics has been to establish statistics that allow the evolution of organic farming to be followed.

To conclude therefore it remains imperative that regular investigations and research is carried out by organisations to ensure they are achieving and utilising the most sustainable logistics supply chain solution available to them at any given time. Perhaps it is worth considering to re-investigate the procedures that your company follows on a 2-yearly basis or maybe more frequently. Take into consideration where improvements can be made with regard to the transportation routes currently used and look at ways to reduce your carbon footprint by lowering emissions. Also how about taking a look at the packaging you currently use for your products. Employing logistics related management and assimilation procedures can offer greatly improved sustainability. Applying more cost effective and resourceful models into your everyday logistics will prove crucial for benefiting the general economic development of a country as well as the environmental benefits that will be gained along the way.

Visit Whichwarehouse to read many other articles relating to warehousing and logistics services available in the UK, Ireland and Europe or use the Find space tool to speak to a 3PL/4PL member of our network regarding your requirements. With more than 80 advertisers covering over 200 sites in the UK and Ireland we are sure you will find the right logistics partner for your business.

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