Digital Meeting of EWG Retail Ops organized by Prof. Alexander Hübner
The purpose of the EURO Working Group on Retail Operations, denoted as EWG on Retail Ops; see EURO Working Group on Retail Operations (ewg-retail-ops.eu), is to advance the development and application of Operational Research (OR) methods, techniques, and tools in the field of Retail Operations. The second digital meeting of the EWG Retail Ops took place on March 26, 2021, and almost 60 participants, from the USA, Asia and Europe, and was organized by Sandra Transchel (Kuehne Logistics University, Hamburg, Germany) and Prof. Alexander Huebner (Technical University Munich, Campus Straubing, Germany).
Food waste is one of the great social and environmental challenges of our time. About one third of the produced food goes uneaten, while still about 10% of the global population suffers from malnutrition. Moreover, each produced food contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and consumes valuable environmental resources. If the greenhouse gas emissions for wasted food are calculated as a country, it would be the third largest global contaminator. Hence, managing food production on a global scale becomes an imperative from an ecological, ethical and economical perspective. However, current approaches in supply chain management, and in particular in grocery retailing, are mainly designed to meet high customer service levels and provide full shelves with ever broader assortments. The growing product proliferation and potentially unnecessary high service levels (e.g., fully equipped fruit and vegetable shelves on Saturday evening) are inevitabley resulting in overstocks and food waste. Avoiding food waste as a social and environmental topic becomes more and more relevant for agricultural production, consumer goods manufacturing, retailing and food services, and in the end to feeding the entire world’s population.
Operational Research methods are appropriate tools to contribute in reducing food waste as the talks the in the workshop have shown. Better planning of inventories across supply chian, better integration of technologies and data across partners, appropriate incentives and an alignment of service levels and oversupplies are few of the options that can be addressed with quantitative modeling. The workshop was composed of one keynote speech and three presentations from PhD students. Arzum Akkas from the Boston University (USA) gave the Keynote Speech on “Reducing Food Waste: An Operations Management Research Agenda”. Professor Akkas has shown in her talk how food retailers can prevent and reduce food waste with better planning.
Afterward, it followed Tobias Winkler from the Technical University Munich Campus Straubing, who talked about “The retailers perspective on food waste prevention” and Navid Mohamadi from the Kuehne Logistics University (Hamburg, Germany), who gave a presentation on “Supply chain coordination for perishable products under “minimum life on receipt” (MLOR) agreements”.
Finally, Nicole Perez Becker from University of Luxembourg presented her topic on “Strategic Behavior and Inventory Decisions in the Presence of Waste Cost”. Subsequently, all participants had the opportunities to meet the presenters in separate virtual breakout rooms for further elaborate on tools and techniques to reduce food waste.
The social and environmental pressure will lead to further invest into capabilities to better manage food supply chains. The workshop has shown that Operational Research Methods can contribute a lot for avoiding food waste along the supply chain. The potential is however untapped and further reseach is clearly necessary.
The EWG Retail Ops plans further digital meetings this year. There will be a workshop on Retail and Pandemics in October, and another one on Retail and Digitalization in December. Details can be found on the groups website: http://www.ewg-retail-ops.eu.