Food Waste in Sub-Saharan Africa

The International Institute of Refrigeration approximately one third of all food produced in sub- Saharan Africa for human consumption goes uneaten or food get wasted because of the cold storage supply chain is underdeveloped or nonexistent. With the issue of major food loss in Sub-Saharan Africa, 30% of sub- Saharan Africans are chronically undernourished and is expected to get even worse with the population growing. The issues that cause food loss are because of each food has different needs which makes the cold storage solution complicated, low yield, affording a better cooling systems is costly for farmers, gaps in the cold storage supply chain lead to temperature fluctuations and spoilage, inconsistent and unsustainable energy sources, financial problems, low level of technical educations. From my perspective, to conclude all of the issues in to smaller areas, the main two challenges that caused SSA to have those issues are the financial and education problem.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, food loss is an especially critical issues. More than half of the foods spoiled before even reaching to the retailer or specific places because the farmers are not able to afford a proper cold storage to keep the foods in a good condition. Some perfectly good food just never gets eaten because farmer can’t afford to harvest an entire field, or they are not able to sell it on time before the foods turn bad. As the amount of the food loss, the profits that can be earn from the food loss is definitely huge. From my perspective, with the huge amount of profits, it can attract a lot of foreign business organization have the interest to invest. Business oriented is the solution to solve the problems of SSA. Applying this solution can definitely brings into a WIN-WIN situation for the food vendor and the investor. The investor that brings sustainable cold storage units to the market can reduce the loss of food and also earn a huge amount of profit. In order to attract the investors, food vendors have to give out part of their shares for the investor to be their shareholders. Food vendors are able to have a better quality of foods and gain more income which has no loss but more profits for the vendors even the investors are taking part of their shares. There are a lot of methods to reduce food loss when we have enough financial support. For example: we can improved storage methods by building more metal storage silos, interlocking plastic bags locks out pest and keeps grain fresh for months. To implement this solution, it is important to look for an organization that has experience on dealing with this type of problems. An Australian organization called SecondBite is an organization that has been working on this specific area. They redirected to community food banks 3,00 metric tons worth of food in 2012 that would otherwise have been thrown away. With their experiences dealing with food loss or wasted, they are capable to provide us better information of solutions. Cooperating with them as a business purpose, telling them how much they could earn from the food loss in SSA could be persuasive to draw their interest.

Another key issues that cause food waste happens during food delivering from places to places, especially in warm places like sub- Saharan Africa, which often perishable goods gone bad sooner as expected if the freezer broke down. The way to fix this issue is to increase hubs and decision points in the supply chain that can help reduce waste. While expanding the quantity of the number of hubs in the supply chain can have a negative effect on quality, consolidation processes negatively affect time span of usability. Each hub provides the choice to install a decision point. However, orders can be reassigned at the decision points according to the FEFO (first expiry first out) strategy. The strategy stands also mean that the oldest inventory items are recorded as sold first but do not necessarily mean that the exact oldest physical object has been tracked and sold. In other words, the cost associated with the inventory that was purchased first is the cost expensed first. While consolidation can help to decrease shipping costs, additional wait times and detours to reach the consolidation point potentially increase delivery times. Besides, loading and unloading processes of regularly results in imperfect temperatures affecting food quality and in worst case can destroy the food. Conversely, consolidation can even improve overall food quality by enabling decision makers to re-consider inventory decisions. As shown, multiple highly interesting and complex research questions in this field need closer investigation. As food quality is random based on the growth and impacted by a wide range of influencing factors within food logistics operations, simulation optimization methods can provide a solid tool to investigate different problem settings to decrease food waste.

A lack of temperature control is one of the biggest reasons so much food goes to waste across the supply chain in sub- Saharan Africa . While companies have been putting resources in research of temperature-controlled packaging as a method of making sure produce and other refrigerated things don’t go wrong in transit, there is always a chance that the delivery truck could get stuck in traffic or the delivery person could leave the door open just a little too long. When the truck eventually arrives at its destination, much of the temperature-sensitive food has already gone to waste. But with what’s known as smart packaging, every temperature-sensitive item or reusable crate will come with a smart thermostat that can communicate the temperature of the product in real time. Business owners and supply chain managers can keep tabs on the temperature of their items to make sure they don’t spoil and go to waste. But this also means retailers don’t have to second-guess themselves when it comes to making sure the food is fresh. Instead of throwing items away prematurely, store owners can have a record of the product’s temperature throughout its journey to the consumer.

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