Thursday, January 10, 2013

Improving Food Supplies

This is not a blog about food waste, although I just heard on NPR this morning, that 50% of food is wasted annually (over $2 billion). One of the problems is lack of proper preservative capabilities, either the food itself or its storage. Another is overbuying and throwing out expired products (more common in the U.S.). This brings up some interesting considerations because world food production and population growth have created predictions of shortages.

One solution is much smaller grocery stores. These new stores would only carry high-turnover products like bread, milk, certain vegetables, fruits, meats etc. Just like the corner 7/11 or Wawa. So how would we get our food? We'd order it, either online or by phone, and it would be delivered within hours or a day tops. Companies like Schwans, Netgrocer and Walmart are just a few. Go online, enter your zipcode and you will know immediately whether they deliver by hand or by mail. Walmart has advantages because you can also find their coupons easily.

This new system would have many advantages. Cutting down on waste is the largest. Instead of stocking shelves of products that MIGHT get sold, definitive orders would be known. With Just In Time provisioning, manufacturing and production at all steps in the process would be decreased and much more efficient. Big box stores could cut their high overhead with smaller physical footprints, and could even open more, but smaller high-volume stores. Store employees lost in this old system would still be needed to take orders, pack, organize and deliver delivered and mail-ordered products.  This could work for ALL products, not just food, although it's critical to our survival to produce and store foods and liquids more efficiently.

Companies doing this would be good investments, because the handwriting's on the wall. The trends can be seen. We can't continue our current grocery store model which is extremely inefficient and has very low margins to begin with. Other good investments would be the USPS, Fed Ex, UPS etc., as well as recycling facilities and products for packaging, and paper mills producing cardboard. Trucking and distribution facilities would also be improved and increase. All these things result in more jobs.

Storage products like refrigerators and freezers would also need to be increased and manufactured cheaply, another good investment. Particularly half-sized refrigerators and freezers.  Companies like Omaha Steaks are leading the way in this trend away from grocery stores. So are local Farmer's Markets, which are also increasing, along with locally grown food facilities, gardens and farms.

Look at Amazon today. Take ordering a book for example. It may be in the warehouse ready to go, or it could be Print On Demand (POD). Either way the book is on your doorstep within three days. Not bad. And POD books are easy to print and ship. No waste from unsold inventory. No storage costs in overflowing warehouses. And cutting down the Cost of Goods Sold is a priority for every business. In the future, producing food and liquids to order will be done similarly, to a large degree.

According to, there are over 223 million PCs in the U.S. The total population is only 310 million. So Internet use is booming and will only grow, especially since many schools teach keyboarding in their curriculums, and PC prices are stable. And with software programs that test for viruses and malware on websites and in emails automatically, use will continue to burgeon. Most everybody trusts PayPal, for example.

Are you comfortable ordering online? Is it much of a stretch to order your groceries online? I don't think so.

Rodney Richards copyright 2014

Check out my bipolar journey with happy interludes in my memoir Episodes available no from, as well as my other longtime blog, ABlessedLifeinAmerica on Google's Blogger!

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