Australia has been undergoing some problems related to the food supply chain in recent times. Exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown, there is a crisis affecting the availability of good food on our hands.
Food shortage is steadily becoming a problem that negatively impacts people’s living standards. According to the Foodbank’s Hunger Report of 2022, an estimated 500,000 households are not getting enough food to eat on a daily basis.
The Food Supply Chain Alliance - an organisation representing a large majority of food producers and distributors- has called the government's attention to the factors causing inadequate food supply and transportation.
The inefficient storage and distribution of food have contributed largely to the prevalent issue of food wastage in Australia. There will be an increase in the number of households experiencing food insecurity if appropriate measures are not taken to curb food shortage.
Although the Australian government and independent organizations have taken some steps to help mitigate this problem, here are some ways that farmers, businesses and consumers can adopt to overcome it;
Agricultural and Construction Technology
Season after season, a lot of produce, as well as raw building materials, go to waste in the fields due to the actions of pests, neglect, limited storage and unfavourable weather conditions. Some products are also left unharvested, where they would inevitably rot.
There is also a shortage of labour, as reported by the Food Supply Chain Alliance to the government in 2022. As a result of low manpower, some farmers have no choice but to reduce their crop production as there is no staff to help in harvesting.
In recent years, innovators such as the Building Certification Group have made advances in technology that can aid optimal production, safety, consistency and compliance with building industry codes in the factory and on the farm. By providing safety and strategy in construction, better facilities are able built and are able to help curtail food storage and supply dispruption.
In the field, drones are also being used to monitor crop growth and take stock of conditions like pest infestation, water supply and climate. Robots and machines can also aid in dispersing pesticides and harvesting ripe produce, reducing the need for human labour and reducing wastage during harvest.
Optimisation of Food Transport and Storage
Produce go through various stages and conditions from when they leave the farm to the consumers’ plates. During the process of transporting food from their production sites to the final consumers, food can get spoilt or deformed, rendering them useless.
Suboptimal transport conditions like temperature and handling are some of the factors that affect the quality of foodstuff. This is also true of food storage, which can be improved using available modern storage equipment such as that supplied by Colby Racking Systems In Queensland.
A dedicated system that can monitor goods in transit and adjust the environmental conditions to keep them fresh will go a long way in ensuring that food gets delivered safely.
Distributors like grocery stores and markets should consider getting their inventory from nearby farms to reduce the distance between farm to plate. Food should also be handled with care during transportation to prevent bruising and undue spoilage.
Most stores throw out a large percentage of received inventory for reasons like the size, shape and overall look of some items not meeting aesthetic standards. Markets that receive stock more than customer demands also end up thrashing edible food items.
Once produce get to the points of sale, it is up to distributors to ensure that the products remain viable for as long as possible. Produce should be stored and packaged in such a way that the freshness is preserved for a long time.
To ensure that every product received leaves the shelf, large-scale distributors should coordinate customers’ demands with their orders. They should also ensure that goods are displayed with the oldest in the front row.
Grocery stores can collaborate with NGOs and food relief groups to ensure that whatever cannot be displayed or sold gets donated to people who are in need. Food delivery services can also help get groceries to customers quickly and more efficiently, reducing the risk of produce expiring on the shelves.
In conclusion, a significant portion of the population is facing food insecurity due to the effects of inefficient food storage and transportation. The government, farmers, distributors and consumers should work together to facilitate an increase in crop yield, optimal transport of food items and timely delivery and consumption of produce.