Taking Sustainability to the Next Level

For many involved in the global food supply chain, sustainability has become central to their operations and not just an afterthought.

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There is a lot to learn by reporting on the global food supply chain. Sustainability is one aspect that continues to evolve dramatically from year to year, and not surprisingly, because environmental stewardship is essential to food production.

What’s interesting to me is how we’ve come to think about sustainability today. For many involved in the global food supply chain, sustainability is central to their operations and not just an afterthought.

Take the foodservice industry, for instance. Foodservice supply chains are complex. They typically consist of numerous vendors, customers, and fast changing demands like promotions, new products and even recalls. Operators that continually look for ways to reduce supply chain costs for themselves and their customers are undeniably successful; when they incorporate sustainability into their supply chain strategy, they are to be commended.

Bill Michalski, chief solutions officer at ArrowStream, says working with foodservice companies to achieve true sustainability has been the goal from the start. It’s a multipronged approach that optimizes planning, replenishment and routing, all of which reduce the number of trucks on the road.

The reality is, there are a lot of trucks on the highways that are following the same routes, yet serving different customers and locations, he says. “The founding vision at ArrowStream was to connect all those moves together, and find the optimal routing to take as many of those trucks off the road as possible,” as well as eliminate dead-head miles. In return, “For every single dollar we’re saving them through better utilization, we are reducing the fuel consumption and emissions that are produced by those deliveries.”

Michalski sees other trends in the foodservice sector that are enhancing sustainability, such as greater acceptance of data sharing and providing a centralized view of that data. Consumers continue to play a big role in this trend, says Michalski. They want greater transparency and information about ingredients, allergens, animal welfare and sustainable practices. In addition, supply chain improvements are linked to less food loss and food waste.

Like any business, ArrowStream exists to make a profit. However, the company also sees its role as a promoter of sustainability in the marketplace.

ArrowSteam is not alone in this approach. Many companies I encounter today have adopted a similar value proposition. You can learn about some of them in our annual Top Green Providers list.

This list has grown over the years, as have the sustainability milestones and sophistication with which companies are incorporating environmental stewardship, renewable energy and waste reduction into their operations. Congratulations to the companies on this year’s list.