1. Impact COVID-19
“COVID-19 will have a huge impact on the need for logistics”, states Irene Alvarado, professor at EARTH University in Costa Rica. “Demand will change, impacting production, processing, and logistics.” She mentions home delivery as an example: “It will increase the costs of the distribution system. Especially change in rural areas will affect the whole world. Rural areas and cities behave differently.”

The WTO expects world trade to fall by between 13% and 32% this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Detrimental for many. Esteban Brenes, professor at INCAE Business School (Costa Rica) and beef farmer says: “We live of international trade; we have to export.” Or think of the Dutch and Belgian potato fries processor; usually they export their fries worldwide. The shutdown of restaurants worldwide, stopped their turnover overnight.

Reduced restaurant activities as a sequel of the pandemic will change demand for potatoes and can trigger far reaching consequences for producers and processors. It could deconcentrate production. At the same time, global free trade is essential to fight local food shortages caused by climate change and reduce hunger, as was recently calculated by an international team of scientists.

The COVID-19 triggered recession causes people to favour more affordable food. The trend will cause processors and retailers to change their demand. New demand causes systems effects. Consumers request for different products triggers shortages elsewhere. Think of hand sanitizers, causing shortages of alcohol in the booze industry. Plummeting demand for high value Italian and French wines is causing wine growers to leave their grapes behind in the vineyards on a large scale.

Hans Jöhr proposes the concept of Total Cost of Delivery, a concept that should be interpreted form both an economic and ecological perspective
2. Total Cost of Delivery
The key question in the Ricardian economy has always been –what regions have a comparative advantage to produce, trade, process, and ship a good most efficiently? In a Ricardian ecology the challenge remains the same, while internalizing ecological costs and benefits. Please note that Prof. Peter van Bodegom, Leiden University, stresses the potential for the latter.

Hans Jöhr, former Corporate Head of Agriculture (just retired) at Nestlé-Switzerland, stresses this a step further: “Safety, quality, sustainability, and affordability should be ensured. For this we need a KPI system from A to Z.” Hans Jöhr proposes the concept of Total Cost of Delivery, a concept that should be interpreted form both an economic and ecological perspective.

Paul van Zoggel, Developer at the Dutch Precision Farming Practice Centre, sees a real challenge in scaling up technologies he considers trust bearing. “In Western Europe, people are willing to pay a premium price for full transparency. However, new food developments have difficulty to process affordably their first-year batches.”

'Serious disruptions can impact foreign trade abruptly so there is need to look more locally'
3. Frames hinder
Hans Jöhr expressed his concern about the absence of facts. “It is too much sensational and emotional.” IFAMA can play an important role here, Hans Jöhr believes: “We can help. Open up the minds of consumers and politicians by bringing more facts to the table.” Moderator Dick Veerman agrees: “You need to deconstruct frames that don't put the real choices on the table.” Hans Jöhr calls this ‘factual advocacy’.

Yelto Zimmer, General manager of Agribenchmark, gave a striking example. “I would like to challenge the assumption that locally produced goods are superior to traded products, considering differences in production systems. Apples that need to stay cooled for a year require more greenhouse gas than apples shipped from New Zealand.” He is equally critical of growing soy in the Donau region. Edeoba Edobor, chair of IFAMA’s young board, agrees but says “the post-COVID reality, however, is that serious disruptions can impact foreign trade abruptly so there is need to look more locally.”

4. Innovation
“What better logistics options are developing?”, asks Amelia Oei, project manager at the city of Rotterdam. “What new solutions can make trade more efficient, both ecologically and economically?”

According to Juan José Bolaños, pineapple grower, carrying around empty containers is the biggest challenge. “Maybe lorry efficiency can improve this alongside better access to information”, Tuck Jasper, President of GoodSpeed Logistics LLC, expects some major changes the upcoming years. “We’ll see logistics going electric.”

5. Post-harvest Losses
Juan José Bolaños stresses the need to reduce post-harvest losses in the food chain. According to the FAO from primary production to retailing losses vary from well over 100 up to 200 kg / 220 to 440 lb. per year per capita. As the report states for grain: During transport, “which require multiple loading and unloading, spillage or pilferage entrain losses. In addition, transit losses may also occur because of damage to grain in trains, trucks, or ships caused by time-bound deterioration. In long-distance transport, grain may also be attacked by insects, fungi, and other pests, similarly to what usually happens during normal storage."

'Trade has a big impact on food security worldwide'
6. Quality upon Arrival
Cold chain logistics plays a crucial role in the quality of foods upon arrival. Think of fresh fruits, like pineapples, mango’s, and kiwi’s, not living up to the upscale customer’s desire for perfect ripeness.

Hans Jöhr adds: “Trade has a big impact on food security worldwide. Logistics has a great deal to do with availability, and more and more on affordable quality. Those form a piece of a bigger topic: an end to end approach over the complete chain.”

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  • Contributors (in alphabetical order):
  • Amelia Oei, project manager at the Municipality of Rotterdam. She helps local businesses to develop. The port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe
  • Anathi Makaman, Lecturer at University of the Free State
  • Bianca van der Ha, project manager of Foodlog, the Dutch online discussion platform on all food related topics. She is also Editor-in-Chief of the IFAMA2020 platform
  • Dick Veerman, Founder and CEO of Foodlog, the Dutch online discussion platform on all food related topics. He is also moderator of the IFAMA2020 platform
  • Dominique Vrouwenvelder, editor of Foodlog, the Dutch online discussion platform on all food related topics
  • Edeoba Willima Edobor, Chair of the IFAMA Young Board
  • Esteban R. Brenes, Chair of IFAMA2021, Costa Rica. He is professor international trade at INCAE Business School, Costa Rica
  • Frank Ofem, Digital Consultant and Start up Coach at TEC (Tokair Extra Consulting), Digital Advisory Services
  • Freek Brilleman, Senior Lecturer at the Rotterdam Business School, and - Treasurer of the Board of the CSCMP (Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals), which connects, educates and develops the world's supply chain management professionals throughout their careers
  • Hans Jöhr, Corporate Head of Agriculture (retired) at Nestlé-Switzerland
  • Irene Alvarado, professor at the EARTH University. She is co-chair of IFAMA2021 in Costa Rica
  • Juan José Bolaños, Treasure of the IFAMA Young Board. He is CEO at Piñalbo, a pineapple grower and exporter in Costa Rica
  • Kathryn White, Executive Director of IFAMA
  • Melissa van der Merwe, University of Pretoria, South Africa, researcher on value chains
  • Paul van Zoggel, Developer/Coordinator at the Precision Farming Practice Centre (Praktijkcentrum Precisielandbouw)
  • Tuck Jasper, President of GoodSpeed Logistics LLC, an intermediar between producers and transporters
  • Vicky Salin, Professor of Financial management in agribusiness at Texas A&M University
  • Yelto Zimmer, General manager of Agribenchmark, a global, non-profit network of agricultural economists, advisors, producers. and specialists in key sectors of agricultural and horticultural value chains