Food scraps contribute significantly to landfill garbage. They originate primarily from grocery stores with unsold stock of perishable food that is either sold at a discount or expires and is discarded (Pearson and Perera, 2018). It is estimated that 160 billion pounds of food are discarded annually in North America and the United Kingdom (UK) (Swinburne and Sandson, 2019). When these organic materials are disposed of in landfills, they combine with other waste and decay in a manner that pollutes the environment (Scott and Vallen, 2019; De Medina-Salas et al., 2019). For instance, the decomposition process releases methane, which contributes to climate change by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (Longjan and Dehouche, 2018; Achinas and Euverink, 2019; Wang and Stanisavljevic, 2019). Therefore, improper waste management is an economic and environmental hazard.
Retailers have been obliged to come up with creative solutions to the food waste problem. Some of them have given refrigerators for the storage of unsold goods, while others gather and donate surplus vegetables (Grosso and Falasconi, 2018). Governments have also been involved in the collection and distribution of food from shops to those in need. These solutions have been lauded as effective trash management measures (Baron et al., 2018). However, recent technological advancements have enabled the deployment of software (apps) to control the food waste crisis. The majority of these innovations are founded on the idea of the sharing economy, which optimizes resources for enhanced value production.
This document investigates the logistical and physical distribution management for food leftover sharing in the sharing economy using the Canadian food-sharing app "Flashfood" as an example. The app was created to prevent food waste by allowing consumers to purchase near-expiration foods at a discount. At the time of its founding, the company was operating in only a few Canadian regions, but it has since expanded to encompass the entire country (Martinko, 2020). It allows consumers to pay for their meals via the app and pick it up from actual distribution points. According to Martinko (2020), the Flashfood App has saved the landfill disposal of up to 50,000 pounds of food. This approach is consistent with the company's aim to eliminate food waste and feed the population (Flashfood Inc., 2019). It employs a sharing economy model to accomplish this purpose.
By reducing its supply chain to ensure clients obtain fresh supplies, Flashfood has enabled consumers to save money on grocery purchases since its implementation. This method is consistent with the economic concepts underlying the sharing economy, which favor lean systems (Muoz and Cohen, 2018). Enhanced procurement and operational procedures have strengthened the supply chain system's responsiveness to market demands. This paper examines Flashfood's logistics and physical distribution operations by examining two essential areas of its supply chain operations: distribution management and logistics information systems. The data unearthed will shed light on some of its most pressing logistical and distribution issues in order to identify potential remedies.
Food Waste Distribution Logistics Network
Detailed Product Category
The Flashfood application bundles nearly-expired food items and sells them at a discount. The majority of the company's products are perishable and must be refrigerated or consumed quickly. Yogurts, pasta, and cereals are a few of the most regularly sold products (Mertz, 2019). The use of digital supply chain technology into Flashfood's distribution model has enabled customers to purchase products from the convenience of their own homes. According to the chief executive officer of Flashfood, Josh Domingues, the software functions like a discount food rack on a shopper's mobile phone, with features that allow consumers to view the products they intend to purchase and assess their condition prior to making a purchase (Chubb, 2016). The data is accessible on a centralized platform that maximizes efficiency.
Source of Food Remaining
Grocery stores are the primary distributors of Flashfood's products. They offer the business with things that would otherwise be discarded if there were no other way to leverage their utility. Flashfood packages and sells these items at a discount. Due to the fact that the majority of the produce sold was gotten at little or no cost, there is typically a 50% discount on the selling price, allowing the company to easily maintain sales (Flashfood Inc., 2019). Flashfood has not only developed a sustainable business model through these trade practices, but it has also reduced its carbon footprint by conducting lean operations.
Partners/ Supply Chain Participants
Flashfood's primary markets are Canada and the United States. The company's primary partner in the United States is Meijer and Hy-Vee supermarkets, which have over 246 physical locations where customers can pick up their purchases (Martinko, 2020). SpartanNash (2020) is a further important partner in the US market that supports Flashfood's operations from its Byron Center, Michigan headquarters. Because its primary business is grocery distribution, the company is a natural fit with Flashfood. According to the company's website, it is the fifth-largest distributor of groceries in the United States (US) (SpartanNash Company, 2020). Its distribution network consists of 155 corporate-owned retail outlets and over 2,000 independent distribution locations (SpartanNash Company, 2020). The company is responsible for the majority of Flashfood's sales on the US market.
In Canada, Flashfood and Loblaws have teamed to open actual retail locations in Quebec and other regions. The partner operates a number of corporate and independently owned stores that employ approximately 2,000 individuals (Loblaw Companies Limited, 2020). Based on this collaboration, Flashfood has established a solid distribution infrastructure across Canada.
Flashfood's extensive distribution network includes collecting points in Michigan and Wisconsin. These centres serve as operational hubs for the company's broad global operations, which are located in Egypt, Colombia, Europe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Bahrain, and Djibouti, among others (SpartanNash Company, 2020). The majority of Fashfood's products are collected dry or refrigerated through strategic collaborations with other firms, including Loblaws, Meijer, Hy-Vee, and SpartanNash.
Important Logistics and Physical Distribution Obstacles
The Flashfood app relies heavily on the provision of a dependable digital infrastructure that enables users to complete all required purchasing procedures, just as they would in a real store. As emphasized in this study, the company's product line includes a variety of items sold at a discount or as specialized items. The collaboration between Flashfood and its primary North American partners, Canada and the United States, is currently under review in order to determine new ways to expand the current distribution network beyond North America (Loblaw Companies Limited, 2020). However, the durability of this digital infrastructure to handle such growth has been questioned, as customers have complained of a number of software difficulties that either prevent them from making purchases or hinder the shopping process (Flashfood Inc., 2019). Some customers have experienced erroneous location settings on their apps, unverifiable quantities on their tabs, and the inability to locate their desired location (distribution) locations on the map (Flashfood Inc., 2019). The technically of the app's functionality has therefore been questioned.
These difficulties have hindered some customers from having a positive purchasing experience. In addition, they have made it challenging to demonstrate the economic feasibility of Flashfood's business model, which is dependent on the app's proper functionality. Aragie, Balié, and MoralesOpazo (2018) highlight the necessity to develop economically feasible food waste management solutions, but app crashes threaten to undermine this core principle of business management. This issue emphasizes the requirement for a waste management plan that is devoid of the idiosyncrasies of faulty virtual distribution models (Vinck, Scheelen and Du Bois, 2019). From a logistical standpoint, app crashes and malfunctions will cause a bottleneck in product delivery, which may have far-reaching effects on various levels of the distribution system.
The connection between the aforementioned app concerns and Flashfood's distribution system may be assessed further by analyzing the aspects that influence the performance of distribution network design. Typically, this review is conducted in two dimensions. The first entails satisfying the needs of customers, which is regarded as the "guiding principle" of the entire logistics and distribution strategy. The second is the expense of satisfying client requirements through increased efficiency and efficacy. Flashfood has a strong performance on the second metric because its lean supply chain strategy ensures that products are delivered to clients quickly and on time. However, the app's dependability issues undercut the first evaluation criterion, which is meeting client requirements.
Concerns over the proper handling of food and the likelihood that some consumers would fall ill after consuming spoiled product have hampered Flashfood's physical distribution operations. This risk originates from the types of goods distributed by Fastfood, which are typically perishable and must be refrigerated within precise temperature ranges; otherwise, contamination may develop (Flashfood Inc., 2019). This difficulty generates a "liability barrier" in the physical distribution network of the organization, which may have long-term effects on its operational activities.
As previously mentioned, a practical issue with Flashfood's operations is the main app's frequent crashing. As suggested by Huawei, this issue might be resolved by adding a tertiary information collection layer to the current system, which would correct crash error reports and forward them to the company's IT department for rectification (2020). This tertiary layer of cognition will function similarly to an alarm in that it will alert the company of outstanding issues, but it will be more accurate in identifying the issue than simply reporting it. This detection system pertains to the internal mechanism of Flashfood's operations, but it also appeals to the general waste management concepts established by Welch, Swaffield, and Evans (2018), which recommend that all supply chain players should assume responsibility for their duties. In accordance with this criterion, Flashfood shall encourage customers to provide an email address or phone number to be contacted regarding the status of their error reports. Therefore, they will have sufficient knowledge of what transpired and what can be done to resolve the issue. This solution addresses the requirement for a dependable and effective communication channel between the firm and its consumers to keep the latter group informed of the company's attempts to address their problems.
To solve the potential issues related with the safe handling of food outlined in section 2.1, the company could have its clients sign a liability waiver form releasing it from the need to pay for damages resulting from the eating of dangerous food. This proposal stems from the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which protects businesses and individuals that donate or distribute food in good faith (Feeding America, 2020). Similar legal protections should be pursued in the United Kingdom and other markets. Europe is currently modernizing some of its food safety and distribution legislation to improve food waste management service delivery (UK Parliament, 2020). While it may be sensible to seek legal protection against such situations, Flashfood's extreme negligence may warrant certain exclusions. This layer of protection against the company's incompetence will instill confidence in the company's logistics and distribution system operators, reducing their fear of being sued and allowing them to operate more efficiently. Flashfood will continue to play a crucial role in lowering the amount of food waste sent to landfills and providing access to affordable groceries for more customers throughout the world by utilizing such robust systems. According to Wang and Stanisavljevic (2019), who relate food waste management systems to the global drive for improved environmental management, this approach will contribute to a reduction in the effects of climate change. Flashfood's supply chain model will contribute to this progress by enhancing the sharing economy's food waste distribution management.
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