Anyone familiar with logistics who reads a popular media think-piece on world hunger and malnutrition is likely to be frustrated. The idea that food is readily available elsewhere, but distribution to certain areas is disorganized or non-existent, seems very unfair.
As people move into urban landscapes, issues with nutritional balance magnify, even in developed areas. Working these problems out won’t be successful with a one-size-fits-all approach. But with a dedicated system of micro decisions that adapt mile by mile, change can happen.
Delivering fresh foods to urban food deserts requires refrigerated units. These vehicles may operate as mobile produce stores or deliver produce to existing stores. They could even deliver healthy meals to individual homes.
Read on to see the two prongs of the urban health dilemma, and how refrigerated vehicles can help solve it.
Health Challenges of Urban Landscapes
Time is of the essence when it comes to getting nutrients from fresh produce. The longer the delay between a vegetable’s harvest and consumption, the more nutrients it loses. And the more nutrients it loses, the less benefit is gained from eating it.
Many methods for preparing and preserving food also deplete nutrients. There is a delicate balance between destroying microbes that could cause spoilage, and stripping out all the healthy stuff. Canning foods extends their shelf life greatly but the process wipes out up to a third of nutrients. Vitamins C, A, and B are especially fragile.
Raw foods, such as produce, lose half of their nutrients within a week and another half over the second week. Refrigeration and careful temperature control stretch these time tables, but the inevitable is waiting.
To deliver proper nutrition, foods need to be eaten ASAP or preserved immediately.
Logistical Challenges of Urban Landscapes
Distribution networks get more complicated, more expensive, and more time-consuming at each step in the line.
The last mile challenge is a frequent discussion in food distribution, and it’s the place where innovation is most needed.
The final area of delivery comes with constant starts and stops, which is hard on equipment. It also comes with frequent breaches of the temperature-controlled zone.
These breaches cost energy to normalize and invite contamination from other sources. Traffic congestion ramps up the time spent idling and burning fuel to keep temperatures optimal.
On top of all of this is another problem: not all items can be delivered at the same temperature. This requires specific delivery equipment for specific items. The delivery service’s costs go up.
All that translates to increased costs up the chain and an increase in cost for the items. This leaves the most delicate items–like produce–in a place where they rise in price to the consumer. Often, this puts them out of reach for many people in lower-income situations.
Presented with a healthier, nurtient-rich option, and a much cheaper less healthy option, most consumers choose wallet over diet.
Providing more efficient last mile urban logistics means consumers can choose what’s best for their health AND their finances.
Delivering quality healthy options to urban landscapes is about keeping costs down and speeds up.
These twin problems are best addressed with consistent equipment that uses less fuel to achieve the end result. Multi-compartment and temperature zone trucks also allow more diverse goods to travel in fewer units.
Need solutions for last mile delivery? Contact us to learn more about your fleet options.