The food supply chain consists of farm inputs, farm processes, transport and processing of food and the disposal or reuse of food waste (see also below: “Recycling and smart use of biomass and food waste”). Logistics, quality control (including minimizing contamination with human pathogens), and reducing the amount of spoilage and/or waste generated are all important supply chain challenges. Other issues include certification of products and optimizing the supply chain as a whole (as opposed to optimizing the performance of components of the chain).

In the forestry industry, novel logistic concepts are needed to respond to increased competition between different wood industries, more frequently occurring natural risks (e.g. wind throw, forest fire and beetle attacks) and to an increasingly volatile political and economic environment.

Extending the shelf life of food through preservation is an important means to reduce food waste.
Novel preservation techniques include (combinations of) high pressure treatment, dielectric heating, and biopreservation. New packing technologies, for example using novel unsaturated polyhydroxybutyrate copolymer materials derived from microbial fermentation of sustainable feedstocks can also contribute to a longer shelf life.

Innovations in farm management are often sought through the use of ICT. Precision farming aims to increase input use efficiencies, minimize emissions, and minimize cost, by applying the right inputs, at the right rate, at the right place and at the right time. The same type of innovation can be used in supply chain services.

Valerie theme leader: Michael den Herder
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