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UPDATED: Rethinking Food Transportation (suggesting a three-step change-process)

For achieving this rethinking and implementing change successfully, we require the understanding of the holistic network behind the current situation. Below I suggest a change-process which emphasises exactly that necessity: the Multilevel Service Design Approach. By looking at the bigger picture, this approach allows the identification of underlying problem areas and enables the (re)design of better solution together with all stakeholders.

Photo of Jakob Trischler
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Instead of delivering fresh food via central distribution centres, local distribution should be enhanced. This accounts especially for fresh products and organic farmers.

Queensland's farmers are dependent from a very few supermarket brands. These supermarket chains collect all the products at one or two distribution centres and then distribute the products again. Especially for fresh food this is not only inefficient but also has negative impacts in terms of food quality, CO2 emissions, and supporting local farmers. What about opening a local farmer section at every supermarket? Fresher, better, and local food can be labelled with the farmers' address and sold at nearby markets. Even the step forward and supporting especially organic farmers would be an alternative to the current situation. These ideas are already established in many countries in Europe. Now it's time for Australia to follow!

What actions would need to be taken to turn this idea into a reality?

I suggest adapting a method called Multilevel Service Design (MSD). MSD looks at the holistic picture and includes 3 stages:

1) The Holistic Network
That means looking at the whole network with all stakeholder included. By doing so, we understand why supermarkets use this form of distribution and not another one. It is crucial to understand the network behind the current service concept because if you don't look at the bigger/holistic picture, changes may not be successful. This network includes B2B (e.g. farmers-supermarket-transportation-government), B2C (e.g. supermarket-customers), and C2C (e.g. customer-customers).

2) The Distribution System Analysis
After identifying the holistic network, the system itself gets identified. That is done by analysing the Service System Architecture (visual and systematic breakdown of the whole system) and the Service System Navigation (the flows and links within the system). This is important for identifying bottlenecks within the current systems or opportunities for add-ons to make the system more efficient and effective.

3) The Distribution System Redesign
Now we have a profound understanding of the current status and can start to redesign the distribution system in that way that bottlenecks and add-ons are efficient and effective not only on the distribution system itself but for the whole network.

That means that all stakeholders get a positive outcome (increased value propositions) and therefore agree to the changes: The customer has access to fresher food and gains higher well-being; the supermarket receives less food waste, lower costs, and higher satisfaction; the farmers receive more income and recognition; the government gains lower CO2 emissions and improved economic results.

But that also means that all stakeholders need to be involved in the (re)design process! Otherwise they may not agree to the changes even though the changes would be meaningful as they may not understand/accept them.

Source: Patricio, L. et al. (2011). Multilevel Service Design: From Customer Value Constellation to Service Experience Blueprinting. Journal of Service Research, 14(2), 180-200.

Who might make a good partner for this project?

Representatives of
- major supermarket chains & logistic centres
- farmers
- government (agriculture, infrastructure, transportation, environment)
- consumers
- transportation & logistics
- service designers (public, network & infrastructure)
- infrastructure and network planners
- universities (using the knowledge and expertise of academics)

What suggestions would you have for potential sources of funding for the development of this project?

Government (funding for research & concept development)
University (knowledge, expertise, running the project)
Government (putting the changes into place - changes on public level)
Supermarkets (putting the changes into place - changes on private level)

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Photo of Stacy

Hi Jakob,
I've come across an article on springwise that features Hubbub - company that combines deliveries from small, local grocers into one delivery. When reading your concept, brought this to mind... might make for good reading / further ideas?

http://www.hubbub.co.uk/

Photo of Louise

Interesting company, Stacy. Thanks for sharing the website! It's helpful for a project I'm currently working on!

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