Everyone in the logistics industry, from manager to courier driver, is becoming increasingly aware that the growth in population and the worrying rise in environmental damage, along with the increase in convenience stores and home delivery of Internet shopping are changing the face of food logistics. But what does this mean for the industry? |
The Growth in Food E-Commerce
It is a fact that, in 2014, 75 million Internet grocery orders were placed. But how many of us realise that this figure is set to rise to 170 million? This may be interpreted as providing big business for the supermarkets, but it has to be remembered that it is only the big name supermarkets - that can afford to entice customers with discounts and convenience shopping - that benefit from e-commerce, and that conventional shops are losing out.
What Does The Growth Signify?
The rapid growth rates pose huge issues for retailers and those involved on the policy making side of the industry. Many retailers are reaping little or no profit according to recent cost analyses, and only make any money at all when a delivery order totals more than around £70. On top of which, courier drivers are limited with regards to delivery routes, van capacity and shift patterns and, due to this, consistently receive bad press from policy makers.
Needless to say, this area of food logistics is attracting huge attention, and influential figures such as Boris Johnson are insisting that the ‘Click and Collect’ concept be developed with more centres around the capital - such as at Tube stations, car parks and other collection pods. ‘Click and Collect’ is a difficult thing to control for foodstuffs, however, as concerns about temperature control, food safety and customer preferences continue to cause issues.
With huge growth in e-commerce predicted in the near future, something has to be done to accommodate it.
The U-Turn Project
Influential people in the industry have been working together to try to decide how to tackle the food logistics issues, and have come up with the U-Turn Project. The EU Horizon 2020 programme provides funding for the project which primarily aims to deduce new methods for urban food transport. These new methods will focus on increased efficiency from both an environmental and economic perspective and will affect everyone in the industry - including courier drivers.
Within this aim, the U-Turn concept has been created to develop a wider recognition and understanding of freight distribution within urban areas. Current freight flows will be considered and experts will decipher which areas of the industry can be further developed to promote more collaboration and logistics sharing.
The new methods will be carefully selected using results from analyses done on existing market data, after which a simulation experiment will take place. Only following a pilot study carried out in the UK, Greece, Italy and Germany, will the methods be put into practice.
The effectiveness of U-Turn will be quantified by the benefits it brings, both to the economy and to society, but will also highlight areas that could potentially cause obstruction.
The U-Turn team believes that the introduction of more city farms and Internet shopping have the most potential for new models. They insist that these, among other game changers, will help change food transportation in urban areas for the better.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier driver work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
Related Articles -