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Welcome to the ‘Safeguarding Food and Environment in Qatar’ (SAFE-Q) project site!

SAFE-Q is a three-year joint research project involving Georgetown University in Qatar, Cranfield University and Brunel University in the UK and the Western Sydney University in Australia. The project is  implemented through a research grant from Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and explores the issue of food waste in Qatar.

On this website, you can find our bi-weekly blog to update you on the progress of our research as well as other related information and follow up on social media!

Help us identify what food items are wasted: Food Waste Survey

19 November 2017

To enable decision-makers to engage with the food waste problem from both supply and demand sides, we are going to develop a decision support system (DSS). In the food supply chain, a good and reliable forecasting plays a significant role in the context of demand variability. Dellino et al. (2017) focus on the problem of sales forecasting and order planning integration through a DSS, and mainly refers to base forecast generated from historical data captured in a continuous planning and monitoring system. However, this DSS has not implemented judgmental adjustments such as recent changes in the market and weather conditions.

Other DSSs have their different focuses and target users according to various purposes. Biswas and Samanta (2016) develop a DSS which is based on two levels of entities (customer-supplier relationship), to design and control the multi-echelon logistics distribution network at different levels of supply chain systems. The sourcing decisions are integrated into the model when the impact of manufacturers and costs of network design are considered, which makes the model complex.

During data collection process, we face several challenges. For instance, in FAOSTAT database, Qatar is not listed in the countries for which food loss data can be obtained. Therefore, we are going to collect other GCC countries which have available data on food loss in the database.

References

Biswas, T. and Samanta, S. (2016) ‘A strategic decision support system for logistics and supply chain network design’, Sadhana – Academy Proceedings in Engineering Sciences, 41(6) Springer India, pp. 583–588.

Dellino, G., Laudadio, T., Mari, R., Mastronardi, N. and Meloni, C. (2017) ‘A reliable decision support system for fresh food supply chain management’, International Journal of Production Research, 7543(October) Taylor & Francis, pp. 1–28.

5 November 2017

On 22 October, we presented our work on minimising food waste in retail store environment at the INFORMS conference. Our research is informed by recent findings on increasing food waste in supermarkets. Especially in the UK, supermarkets are criticised for high levels of food waste and subsequently they have started collaborating with charities and food redistribution organisations such as FareShare or FoodCycle. However, such collaborations still constitute a very small part of the food surplus in supermarkets. According to an article published by the Guardian, Sainsbury’s donated approximately 3000 tonnes of food to such organisations, which is 2.5 times what they donated the year before; however, it is still a mere 7% of their food surplus. The bottomline is that perishable products deteriorate and lose value in short periods and they get wasted because of retailer’s over-stocking, consumers’ over-puchasing, and inefficient quality control and product handling. Retailer’s and consumers’ actions represent the typical supply-demand mismatch.

It is possible to use surplus food by designing systems to allow by-product synergies. Think of fresh apples sold on the shelf and those that are not bought by the end of the day to be transferred as input to a secondary process which maybe producing higher value-added products such as apple pies. The surplus from the primary process of selling fresh apples could be donated to charities, reclaimed in a secondary process such as the one described as apple pie production, or disposed. Similarly, the secondary process of producing apple pies is likely to have surplus products, which still need to be considered for donation or disposal. The synergy between the fresh produce sales process and the processed produce (apple pie) production process is what is defined as the by-product synergy. The by-product synergy is shown to affect the amount of food waste and food donation. It decreases waste by “consuming” primary excess units in the secondary process. Expected total waste decreases under by-product synergies if the net tax benefit for donation and secondary demand uncertainty are low, but otherwise total waste increases. By-product synergies hurt donation by diverting excess units away from it into the secondary production process. It can discourage the retailer from donating at all because the effort to donate the few excess units available may not be worthwhile. The benefit of BPS in- creases as the correlation between the demand for fresh apples and the demand for apple pies gets more negative.

 

22 October 2017

Last week we had a meeting with Dr. Ahmad Dallal, the Dean of Georgetown University Qatar, to update him on our research progress and future plans to carry on food waste and food security research in Qatar. We appreciate Dr. Dallal’s feedback on our research, highlighting the importance of food waste reduction efforts in relation to improving food security.

October 16 was the World Food Day. We had an interview with the Oryx FM in Qatar regarding World Food Day, food security, and food waste. World Food Day was established by Food and Agriculture Organization’s member countries in 1979 and since 1981, every year a different theme has been chosen to highlight areas for actions. The World Food Day theme in 2017 is “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.” You can find about more about this year’s theme and FAO’s poster and video contest here: http://www.fao.org/world-food-day/2017/theme/en/

We are excited to submit our work to Qatar Foundation Annual Research Conference which will be held in March, 2018. This conference will be a great opportunity for researchers to present and discuss their work, build network and increase awareness of new trends in their research area of interest. We are hoping to present SAFE-Q research outcomes at regional and international platforms to contribute to Qatar’s food security efforts.

8 October 2017

As we have reported in the previous post, we are preparing a submission to present and share SAFE-Q research outcomes in the Qatar Foundation’s Annual Research Conference to be held in March 2018. This year the conference pillars are Energy and Environment, Computing and Information Technology, Health and Biomedical, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities. More information about the ARC ’18 can be found on the conference website:

www.qf-arc.org

We are also preparing to present our work at the upcoming INFORMS Conference in Houston, Texas. Dr. Emel Aktas will be giving a talk on inventory control policies to minimize food waste in retail environment:

“Policies to Minimise Food Waste in Retail Environment

Emel Aktas, Senior Lecturer, Cranfield University, Cranfield, United Kingdom, emel.aktas@cranfield.ac.uk

Akunna Oledinma, Hafize Sahin, Zahir Irani, Amir Sharif, Samsul Huda, Zeynep Topaloglu, Mehran Kamrava

Food retail is one of the largest sectors both in the UK and the US. IGD predicts the UK food and grocery market to reach £200bn over the next five years. Supermarkets sell 60-90% of all fresh fruits and vegetables, with high levels of imported produce. We focus on fresh fruits and vegetables due to their high value and perishability. We build a causal loop of the fresh fruits and vegetables supply chain in Qatar, considering imported and locally grown produce, the demand, and the waste due to inefficient operational processes and consumer behavior. Using the deSolve library in R, we test inventory control policies based on service levels, lot sizes, and demand across a range of fresh produce categories.”

Last week, we welcomed our new research team member, Ms Qiongyu Lu. Currently Ms. Lu is a doctoral student at the Cranfield School of Management and she will contribute to our research efforts in the UK. We look forward to working with her. We also say farewell to Dr Oledinma, who has taken up a new role as a teaching fellow in the University of Warwick. Our collaborations on food waste reduction will continue.

We are also organizing a SAFE-Q dissemination event to be held in 2018. We have a date confirmed among the team members as 19 March 2018. We will be updating you about the agenda and invitees as we approach the event. We are very excited about it that it will be an opportunity to share our findings and receive feedback from our stakeholders as we approach the close of our project.

24 September 2017

We are pleased to learn that the Annual Research Conference will be running in March 2018. We have two papers to consider submitting the conference, by the deadline of 25 October. One paper is to report our results from the consumer survey about food waste, and the other one is our simulation modeling; where we examine the waste occurring at different stages of the supply chain; informed by the causes we identified right at the beginning.

From a modeling point of view, it is not possible to have a large model that accounts for everything that we observe in real life. We simplify the concepts whilst maintaining the significant variables that affect the food system. All our efforts are geared towards contributing to increased food security in Qatar through minimizing waste in the food supply chain. Lower waste means better availability and higher accessibility for food that is nutritious and aligned with the preferences of the people who consume it in the long run.

This is a complex issue especially for a country like Qatar that has a significant number of expatriates from all over the world in the workforce. The diversity of the population lead to high variability in the food system to meet the expectations of consumers who are used to their countries’ cuisines. The globalized food supply chains mean that it is possible to find any food all year round because it is grown somewhere in the world to meet the demand. However, in that case the amount of production and the distances travelled affects the price which in turn has an impact on price.

We are working on unpacking these interrelationships among supply, demand, consumer preferences, supply chain resilience and flexibility as we study how food waste can be reduced to contribute to increased food security.