At the Autumn Food & Drink Forum, held during 9-11 November 2014 in Dubai, Mohebi Logistics COO Phil Showering explained why the keyword today is ‘sustainability’.
Delegates from leading food companies around the world attended this premium event to discuss the latest trends and opportunities in a rapidly expanding region that imports a high percentage of its food supply.
Phil Showering pointed out that only by following good business practices to achieve a sustainable food supply can the three essential requirements be met: lowering consumer prices, stimulating sales and maximizing financial returns for investors.
Why bother with sustainability?
Throughout our lives we depend on the food supply being available and plentiful, up to quality and offered at reasonable prices. Food manufacturers depend on there being a constant demand for their products. But none of this happens by chance. It requires planning and foresight.
The role of facilitators in the food chain – importers, distributors and retailers – is to ensure that there’s a smooth and uninterrupted flow from Farm to Factory and especially from Factory to Fork. In our Gulf region, so dependent on imported foods, much needs to happen to make the process work more smoothly.
Local barriers to food sustainability
The nations of the GCC really need to work closely together to develop a cohesive and efficient regional entity. Meanwhile numerous barriers exist to impede the presence of food sustainability.
Awareness – In public service circles there’s still limited awareness to the need for making food import channels more efficient.
Bureaucracy – A lack of standardized legislation between nations and a bureaucratic acceptance procedure in several GCC nations greatly complicates and slows down the inflow of food products to the region.
Distribution – Many distribution channels remain complex and include redundant duplication of effort. The concept of Centralized Distribution, involving fewer trucks on the road and a wider distribution to more points per truck, is taking hold only slowly.
Infrastructure – Modern food storage and distribution infrastructure exists in some parts of the GCC (principally in the UAE) but needs to be extended much further afield.
Sustainability saves money
The ability to secure good and efficient supply lines with a minimum of bureaucracy and organizational delay translates into benefits for all sectors of the community.
Producers and Growers gain constant growth and demand for their output, as well as brand and price protection. Consumers enjoy the widest possible selection of produce all year round at low prices. Retailers get the right supplies at the right time – and by lowering operational costs they can secure the best margins.
The reason that food sustainability has raised its profile worldwide is because it’s plain good business practice. It follows the fundamental logic of ‘You look after today and tomorrow will look after you’.