FDS are the process by which consumers are supplied with food products throughout agrifood supply chains. Generally, food is produced in agricultural and rural areas and transported to cities to meet urban consumers’ dietary requirements. The rise of the middle-income class in cities and their enhanced consumption power have led to improved logistics and distribution systems, especially in developing countries where rapid urban expansion is ongoing.
The composition of distribution systems generally refers to three elements: transportation; warehousing; and retail facilities. Food is supplied to urban areas through transportation chains involving trucks and buses and then stored in warehouses for distribution. The distributed food is supplied to retail markets and facilities to reach end consumers. However, the systems are varied, complicated processes that may result in storage in multiple warehouses and transport to different distribution centers within a city.
Therefore successful FDS may take various forms based on economic and social considerations. Depending on economic factors such as level of development, urban planning, and poverty, the operational dynamics and behavior patterns of players in the supply chains require different approaches. Distribution channels are affected by social factors such as the producers and agents (gender, ethnic group, etc.). The types of agents also tend to evolve from middlemen to official management agencies based on the national development stage to enhance transparency and efficiency. Growing urban traffic congestion affects transportation methods within cities. Inadequate retail markets, limited food retail outlets, and unhealthy conditions are challenges in modernizing FDS. To establish successful FDS, integrated strategies are required in line with changes in the external factors, infrastructure, facilities, and services to match city growth and rising urban food demand. Macro-level policies on related factors such as agriculture and regional and urban development must also be considered.
This e-learning course will study the process and characteristics of FDS. The forms and types of agencies/organizations as active players in the supply systems will be also reviewed.