Food Logistics Turns 10

Logistics View

It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed by since we first launched Food Logistics. It seems like only yesterday we were crafting our editorial mission, which was to provide relevant information to our readers about the new strategies and practices that were reshaping the food industry.

During the '90s, the industry was at a crossroads. Markets had matured, consumers were more demanding, but systems in the industry had remained relatively unchanged for decades. Those food companies that wanted to break out of the old paradigm, however, were embracing Efficient Consumer Response (ECR), a voluntary and inter-industry effort started in 1992.

ECR had three tenets: to provide consumer value; to remove costs that did not add value; and to maximize value and minimize inefficiency throughout the supply chain. Ultimately, ECR's goal was to create a responsive, consumer driven supply chain in which distributors and suppliers work together as business allies to maximize consumer satisfaction and minimize costs.

With this new focus on the supply chain, food companies began to realize the importance of logistics to their overall business and operations. There were other publications that covered the topic, but none focused exclusively on the food industry—which has its own unique set of logistical challenges.

In our first issue, we said "Today, logistics is emerging as the last bastion for competitive advantage in the food industry. Simply put, the food enterprises that use logistics as a strategic weapon in the battle for the consumer most assuredly will outperform their counterparts in years to come."

That has certainly proved to be true. While ECR officially ended in 2000, the best practices that companies put in place continue to streamline today's food supply chain, reducing costs and increasing speed to market. Trading partner relationships are not as adversarial as they once were. And in many organizations today, marketing and manufacturing are aligned with logistics.

Throughout the years, we have presented articles about food companies that have used logistics to gain a competitive advantage. In this issue, we recall some of those stories. Stroll down memory lane in "Defining A Decade" [page 33] in which we take a look at some of the industry highlights that have occurred over the past 10 years. You'll see familiar faces, some of whom have moved on to bigger and better things, but they all left an indelible mark on this industry. Let us know what you think about this special section.

Logistically speaking, the food industry has come a long way in the past 10 years, but the journey has only just begun. As we enter the next decade, we will continue to keep you abreast of the strategies and practices that reshape this everchanging industry.