The growth in the popularity and demand for organic food has led to far-reaching changes within the food and beverage industry. Perhaps the most significant of these changes are the ones made to food supply chains to adapt to industry demands and new ways of procuring, sourcing, and producing food products. Organic food supply chains are faced with heavy pressure to increase their output in order to keep pace with the retail sales of organic food products. So, in this article, we have summed up a few important challenges that companies face in maintaining organic food supply chains.
Challenges in Maintaining Organic Food Supply Chains
Challenge #1: Risk and threat of pests
An important thing to remember when considering your organic food supply chain is the increased risk that comes with organic farming. In addition to the real physical risks posed by the increased threats of pests and other crop-destroying influences, it’s costly and time-consuming for farmers to convert to organic farming: in the US, land used for organic farming cannot have had prohibited substances, including many pesticides, used on it for a period of 36 months before produce grown on it can be sold as organic. This means, naturally, that there are less organic farmers than non-organic farmers and it is more of a challenge to find reliable and steady suppliers of truly organic produce that can meet industry demands. This also means that it can be harder to negotiate price and other things with suppliers.
Challenge #2: Transporting organic food
The processing, transporting, and distribution of organic foods also presents a unique challenge: keeping it separate from non-organic produce. This is an especially important point for vegan organic products and organic meats. This often means that companies that offer both organic and non-organic food products must use two different machines for each step of production, increasing costs overall. Alternatively, they can choose to clean them thoroughly between organic and non-organic use, which also leads to increased costs and impedes the speed of production. It is necessary that manufacturers and distributors maintain organic food standards and practices so as to not deceive consumers about the quality and state of the product that is being sold.
Challenge #3: Insufficient growth of organic food
The seasonality of certain organic crops and the inability to grow sufficient amounts to meet customer demands in specific regions is also a challenge for the supply chain that can impede progress and increase costs. Often, businesses will have to use multiple suppliers in order to procure all of the ingredients, crops, or products that they need—for example, a business that uses organic food may need to import organic zucchini from one region, organic carrots from another, and organic cucumbers from a third just to produce one type of product. Importing multiple organic products in this way can add high import costs, and can complicate the supply chain.
As the growth of the organic food market is not expected to slow down anytime soon, businesses need to optimize food manufacturing supply chains, alter their procurement strategies, and shop around for suppliers to cater to consumers and remain competitive.
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