You are the chief operating officer (COO) of a local supermarket chain that has 10 stores within an 100-mile radius. The farm-to-table movement has been gaining momentum locally, and now it’s a consumer demand as well as a good practice. This movement supports the use of local suppliers to limit the environmental impact caused by the long-distance transportation of food. It also supports small family farms that use sustainable practices, such as avoiding genetically modified organisms and pesticides or using organic fertilizers. The CEO of the supermarket chain has asked you to see if the supermarket can apply some of the farm-to-table principles to how it selects produce suppliers. Before moving too far in that direction, both you and the CEO agree that the inventory-management implications need to be understood.
Keep in mind that supermarket customers want a wide range of produce all year long—even produce that does not grow locally during parts of the year. For example, oranges cannot survive very cold weather, but local customers expect to be able to buy them even during snowstorms in winter.
In your initial post, address the following:
- What are a few different ways that the supermarket chain could incorporate farm-to-table principles into its operations while still meeting consumer demands?
- What are the benefits and risks associated with incorporating farm-to-table principles into the grocery chain’s supply chain?
- What data and communication with the local farms is necessary for the supermarket to implement this endeavor?
- What factors or metrics will determine whether you, as the COO, support applying farm-to-table principles to the supermarket, and why?