Supply Chains are never far from the news; in the last few weeks our focus has been on Calais and the disruption caused by Operation Stack. Just as recently, food supply chains have come under scrutiny, with dairy farmers suffering from the interruptions of food supply chains – such as export restrictions into Russia and reduced demand in China. One of the big challenges is that dairy farmers have to sell their milk in advance without knowing the price. The settlement price is set approximately 30 days after the milk has been delivered, meaning cashflow forecasting for many farmers is near impossible, this in turn impacts their ability to make appropriate investment decisions.
The fact is that food supply chains require a fundamental overhaul. As a society we need to decide whether we want (a) food security by growing our own or within a stable area e.g. Europe (b) food quality – by understanding and tracing where our food comes from (c) food convenience – needing all foods available all year (d) food environment – do we value having agricultural land as part of our country side and the benefit it can bring to wildlife and environmental impact.
What is clear, the policy of growing more, with only focusing on higher yields, and ignoring quality and sustainability, will make the food supply chains more volatile in the future – a major rethink is required.