Skip to main content

The future of fresh food supply chain

Consistently deliver high-quality fresh product to consumers

How customers buy food is changing. Freshness and quality, even more so than cost, is the top driver of satisfaction among grocery customers. Combine this driver with a rapid proliferation of game-changing technologies, societal food waste challenges, changing consumer behaviors and an intensely competitive industry segment, grocery retail, food service providers, food suppliers, and others in the food value chain must evolve to effectively compete. The traditional food value chain is becoming a digitised, always on, and fully integrated digital supply network powered by real time data and analytics.

Consistently deliver high-quality fresh product to consumers


Fresh analytics: Feed your bottom line without all the rubbish

New technologies and advanced analytics are available to help the fresh food value chain pinpoint the root causes of fresh failures and optimise freshness from the field to the shopping cart. Advanced tools and techniques help producers, distributors, and retailers reduce food waste, identify freshness loss, and solve root cause issues. Learn more


The emerging blockchain economy for food

Evolving technologies are spurring collaboration, partnerships, investment, and new opportunities to improve product quality and reduce food waste. Our latest report offers unique insights into blockchain food innovations and their effect on this rapidly growing market. Learn more

Driving fresh in the organisation

Helping your organisation take these steps starts to drive the future of fresh food in your value chain:

Lean current operations: To improve fresh performance, we help our clients improve digitally-enabled demand and supply synchronisation, reduce product dwell time, limit damages, reduce inventory pools, and optimise orders and service levels, improving freshness, reducing waste, and improving customer satisfaction.

Upgrade legacy system: Our digital readiness philosophy focuses on upgrading legacy systems and enterprise resource planning (ERPs), creating the required foundation needed to develop a full digital stack for an always-on integrated fresh supply chain. These solutions provide the flexibility and scale that improve visibility and process efficiencies that provide exponential benefits to your fresh supply chain.

Pilot and integrate digital technologies: New technologies are enhancing the way product is harvested, transported, and served. These technologies create new data to help drive real-time or near-time insights on product performance and customer demands. Additionally, they automate manual processes and enable enhanced decision making across the entire supply chain. Deloitte helps clients chose, pilot, and scale digital technologies that address critical Fresh issues.

Build data and analytics capabilities: Freshness is hard to predict, measure, and track using current systems and inspection techniques. It is necessary to have a reliable, quickly accessible, source of data and analytics that provides a digital measure of freshness. We stand up real-time or near-time customer and supply chain data and analytics capabilities to identify root causes, improvement opportunities, and drive significant value.

Develop a culture of fresh: Many organisations operate in silos and use traditional network models to manage perishable items. Holistic freshness management requires an end-to-end owner of the entire supply chain to drive collaboration across business departments and functions. This team must articulate the interconnected nature of managing fresh product and develop strong business cases for program changes. Deloitte helps clients develop the culture of freshness by identifying KPIs, aggregating data and information, aligning various departments incentives, and developing robust change management programs.


Explore these opportunities to achieve better results for your food value chain

Order the right amount of product: Often grocers order too much and/or too many stock keeping units (SKUs). This approach largely stems from inefficient forecasting techniques and order size inefficiencies. Ordering the right product and right quantity to meet customer demands and seasonal/event spikes lowers eventual food waste and improves margins and product freshness. Organisations can rationalise SKUs, better integrate customer demand data and supply indicators from the farm, and account for several demand and freshness variables in forecasting to overcome these challenges.

Demand the highest quality product: Quality of fresh products (meat, produce, seafood, etc.) can be challenging to predict or measure. Ensuring that the supply is fresh requires more than regular quality control processes. Sensor data and advanced analytics have helped grocery chains predict product quality and freshness from the time it is harvested to the time when it reaches stores. Monitoring supplier quality drives joint process improvements and enables quality based incentives, used to develop continuous improvement programs focused on improved quality and consistency.

Move the product at the right velocity and flexibility: Once the product is acquired it is essential that the perishable product moves fast across the supply chain to retain its quality and freshness. Apart from the time the product spends in the supply chain, it is also important that the supply chain is flexible and able to acquire products from resilient sources and moves them with minimal disruption.

Take care of the product: To extend the life of perishable products it is important to maintain the right storage conditions. Monitoring cold chain compliance across the supply chain provides data to better predict product quality and availability at the point of sale apart from insights into vendor performance. Training employees on better handling procedures can help reduce unwanted damages and loss of sales.

Maximise freshness benefits in your stores: Customers demand fresh products when they walk into a store. Companies struggle with in-store execution as fresh product often sits in the back room, incentives don’t account for waste, and visibility into store inventory movement is minimal. Digital workflows help store employees to better handle product movement and provide immense visibility essential for forecasting, labor, and supply planning.

Optimise diversion: Corporations are under immense pressure to do right by the environment, especially when it comes to food waste. Food waste will occur in the food value chain and it is imperative to assess cost-effective diversion processes by exploring innovative waste logistical models to not only reduce your company’s impact to the environment but also reduce cost.

Deloitte can help
If you’d like to evolve your fresh food supply chain to one that is highly dynamic and agile, let’s talk. We can help you deploy cutting-edge digital and analytics solutions that enable real-time purchasing, routing, and pricing decisions to deliver the fresh food your customers want when they want it.

James Beard Foundation
Deloitte is a proud sponsor of the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America and Leadership Award. The James Beard Foundation’s (JBF) mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. We’re proud to sponsor these programs that drive and recognise innovation in our communities.

Did you find this useful?

Thanks for your feedback

If you would like to help improve further, please complete a 3-minute survey