The food sector can only meet future demands by fundamentally changing production and mindset.
The practice of transporting food as a cheap bulk commodity in truck convoys thousands of kilometers is is subject to increased scrutiny. This is because customer demand for locally produced, yet affordable goods is continually growing. A fundamental change in the food industry is necessary to meet the goal of better, albeit inexpensive products. This can only succeed if the disjointed value streams (“global sourcing”) are integrated – making them less prone to disruption and the overall “farm to fork process” leaner.
The example of Toyota as the “inventor” of Lean Management shows that this can be achieved. Accordingly, for modern collaboration to serve customers, the relationship between growers, producers and retailers must change from one of power to one of partnership: Food Chain³. All processes from raw material generation to production to trade must form a value stream for each variant family and work as closely as possible alongside of customers. Process chains must remain short and are highly integrated. Interfaces are to be avoided if possible. This is because the freedom from disturbances must be guaranteed in the value streams in order to produce sustainably and prevent waste.
Is this just an ideal state? Not at all! Initial examples show that companies have started to rethink their approach: Rügenwalder Mühle, for example, relies on soy from Germany; Kühne advises farmers on the selection of seeds and accompanies their work in the field; Aldi Süd is working with regional bakeries. Positive approaches, but the courage to implement “Lean Thinking”
across the board – has yet to come.
“Is this just an ideal state? Not at all! Initial examples show that companies have started to rethink their approach.”
AXEL DAVILA LAGE
Food & Beverage