Innovation in logistics needed – The ‘first mile’ is also becoming critical – Foodlog

In the catering and food sector alone, there are thousands of producers and suppliers who will soon be supplying via city hubs; fresh, fast and complete. Producers who are increasingly located in the region. With short chains, city dwellers can get fresh and affordable seasonal products from farmers in the region and we keep natural cycles short. Sounds simple. But, how are we going to arrange the many time-critical small shipments in food service to the city in the ‘first mile’?

Learning from flowers and plants
It is instructive how they do this in floriculture. In the past, large volumes went from a grower to the auction. Nice and easy. Now the grower delivers a few roll containers directly to the many customers several times a day. Flowers and plants have to go to the marketplace as quickly as possible and then proceed to the next stop. The intricacy and complexity is increasing.

Just as people can choose to go by bus or taxi, so it is in the floriculture sector. Flower transporter De Winter Logistics offers DWL Express; a taxi service that can be deployed on an ad hoc basis. In addition, the carrier offers the DWL Bus service. This is a fixed service, which always runs fixed routes at fixed times. No more making the same phone call every day to book transport. Be sure that the cargo will be picked up. At the agreed time. Paperless, of course, with a well-thought-out app for the users. We can learn a lot in food there.

We need innovation in logistics; not only in the ‘last mile’ also in the ‘first mile’

Opportunities: faster, more often and fresher

In city logistics, we often talk about the ‘last mile’ problem with increasing restrictions on supply in cities. Limitations that we mainly solve with bundling, central kitchens, cooperation in the food chain with food service wholesalers and city hubs. The ‘last mile’ into the city is becoming smarter and healthier and also affordable if you leave that to professionals.

The emergence of short chains will lead to more intricacy, dynamics and complexity upstream in chains. There is a need for large-scale, and especially sustainable, collection systems. Paperless, bookable like a taxi, with high service levels. Data plays the main role in communication with the city’s food hubs and dynamic planning. Capacities are shared in collaboration or with transport platforms. This is not business as usual. We need innovation in logistics; not only in the ‘last mile’ but also in the ‘first mile’.


Jhr. Dr. Walther Ploos from Amstel is a lecturer in city logistics at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and conducts research into food service logistics, among other things. He is trained as a business economist and specializes in supply chain management and organization. Walther is also active as a house deejay outside his field.

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Innovation in logistics needed – The ‘first mile’ is also becoming critical – Foodlog