Chain design

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research develops and implements knowledge that gives the food and biobased sector, worldwide, a commercial advantage by developing sustainable fresh supply chains.

What is the contribution of a chain component to the carbon footprint of a product? Which product residues can be reused, via which process and how do I implement this process? Which option is more environmentally friendly: make soup from residual tomatoes or dump them? Companies wanting to develop a truly sustainable chain must take a chain-wide approach. Doing so invites many complex decisions concerning cost and consumption of natural resources, raw materials and energy, but also about the position they wish to take on corporate social responsibility. The challenge is to tune production processes and logistics activities across the whole chain to deliver the desired profitability with maximum sustainability and superb product quality, at the lowest possible cost.

Chain-wide approach

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research maps the various parts of the production and distribution chain and their contribution to the total carbon footprint. Inventory, modelling and optimisation of product flows allow us to clarify how companies can design fresh supply chains in a sustainable and cost-efficient way. We consider all relevant factors: market developments, logistics, geography and technology.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has experience in designing fresh supply chains worldwide, from the Netherlands to Vietnam. We link fields of expertise within Wageningen University & Research, such as storage and preservation, quality control, food safety, knowledge and information systems and biorefinery processes. Our close cooperation with other expert groups within Wageningen Food & Biobased Research enables us to advise companies on innovative processing options for residues in the food chain, such as turning tomato leaves and stems into fibre pulp for sustainable packaging.

Food waste reduction

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research participates in several projects to reduce food waste. One is Food2Food, focused on the processing of food waste streams from supermarkets into high quality foods. In co-operation with a food service company, we are developing a new processing chain for this waste stream. Our input will determine the design, optimisation and organisation of this chain.

In addition, on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, we are investigating how the Netherlands can share its knowledge and expertise with companies operating in developing and emerging markets to reduce food losses in the postharvest chain. We identify problems and possible solutions and recommend the best methods for knowledge transfer. The ultimate goal is to establish - through collaboration with industry, research institutions, NGOs and governments - a network with combined intelligence on postharvest issues and supply chain efficiency.