Nearly $54 billion in perishable retail food was lost in the United States in 2011, a problem that prompted an international group of operations management researchers to devise a method for a timelier and less costly distribution of perishable inventory under simultaneous, multiple types of demands.
Suppliers of perishable products face variability in terms of the level of freshness required for a given product and the lead time for delivering it. In the case of food, restaurants tend to use their supply quickly after receiving orders. But grocery stores may keep the same items for longer. Suppliers must also factor in variability in the time to transport products to customers at different distances.
The researchers tackled the multi-variable challenge by devising optimal policies for managing perishable inventory, including when and how much of a product to order; how much to hold at different ages; how to distribute product to customers with different timing and freshness demands; and for disposing of anything that hasn't been sold. The optimal model reduced costs by as much as 27%.
Using a more practical and dynamic mathematical model, the scientists discovered that the single most effective strategy for cutting suppliers’ costs was shortening the lead time between receiving an order and delivering it, compared with increasing a product’s shelf life or persuading customers to accept an older product.
The new model came within 4% of the cost under the optimal policies. The new method should improve typical supply management policies that many companies currently use. Study coauthor Opher Baron of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management credited more recent developments in mathematical theory for giving him and his colleagues at the University of Waterloo and the Chinese University of Hong Kong the tools to tackle such a complex challenge.
“Thirty years ago, the mathematical machinery available couldn’t solve this type of problem,” he said in a press release. “Sometimes we don’t understand why this ‘strange math’ might be relevant, but it is helping us to push the frontier of what we can do.”
South by Southwest (SXSW) has announced the finalists for its 12th annual SXSW Pitch event, taking place as a part of the startups track happening at the annual event in March. Among the 50 finalists, five startups tackle challenges in the science of food to deliver solutions to ensure a safe, sustainable, and abundant food supply.
Researchers from the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment of Hebrew University recently developed a line of next-gen chickpea isolates, using patent-pending technology to extract up to 90% pure protein from the chickpea seed.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) recently announced the five winners of the 2019 WFP Innovation Challenge, which awards funding, recognition, and support to WFP employees, startups, and entrepreneurs revolutionizing how the problem of global hunger is addressed.
With concerns over contaminated seafood and the environmental cost of beef production, it is no wonder that startups are popping up with a slew of alternatives. However, until recently, innovation in the pork alternatives segment has lagged.
KeHE, a U.S. natural and organic specialty food distributor, has debuted an emerging brands program—KeHE elevate—to nurture early-stage brands and maximize their growth and success potential in the marketplace.
Nestlé has announced a collaboration with Burcon, a manufacturer of plant-based proteins derived from pea, canola, soy, hemp, sunflower seed, and various other crops, and Merit Functional Foods, provider of protein ingredients and blends.
The cell-based meat, poultry, and seafood company Memphis Meats has closed a $161 million Series B funding round. Thus far, the company has raised more than $180 million.
Tyson Foods has created the Coalition for Global Protein, a multi-stakeholder initiative to “advance the future of sustainable protein.”
According to Mintel, over the past two years, the number of Brits who have eaten meat-free foods has grown from 50% in 2017 to 65% in 2019. And the sales of meat-free foods reflect that, having grown 40% from 2014 (£582 million) to 2019 (£816 million).