Chef Middle East on the Foodservice Supply Chain topic: Challenges and Inferences…
Alwin Andrews, Head of Commercial at Chef Middle East said: “The pandemic has exposed continued vulnerability possessing a risk for the whole value chain with long term supply disruptions with the Suez Canal blockage adding fuel to the fire, inflation, unavailability of preferred products; particularly in the GCC region where food security has long been an issue due to being heavily dependent on imports to meet and maintain optimum supply in the face of growing local demand.”
Andrews added: “Increased freight with longer lead time, cost of packing materials and production constraints are the main challenges that the Foodservice supply chain is facing today. This is related to domestic demand in countries re-opening for tourism and poor commitments from shipping lines due to congested ports and transhipments delays that are the real bottlenecks we face today. And these relates directly to shortages in refer equipment, offshore communication and unavailability of skilled personnel.”
According to an article on Bayer, about 23% of the food globally produced is exported internationally with a staggering value of USD 1.5 trillion accounting to the world’s 10% GDP. The GCC region predominantly is dependent on fresh healthy and safe food, and this reliance has led to having access to a great variety and quality food in our daily diets, blending with the multicultural environment and diverse food culture we live in.
“Irrespective of what the produce is or where the world is moving, food production depends on a key element: ‘People’. It is people who sow, harvest, produce pack and transport. This pandemic forced the way people work causing massive disruption and ripple effect through the supply chain. Categories such as Meat & Poultry, Oils and Condiments are a few to name.” Adds Andrews
Arindam Das, Senior Procurement Manager at Chef Middle East commented: “We are constantly observing the global situation and the imminent challenges to take necessary actions pro-actively. While the inventory cover is extensively stretched, capacity seems to be to the brink which led us to book space in 3PL to facilitate and ensure an optimum inventory level. The traditional way of demand planning is no longer in place, rather it needs a lot of precision, initiatives, and aptitude in addition to market knowledge, foresight and understanding of the rapid change in trends.”
Zanoob Kochi Peedikayil, Senior Supply Planning Manager at Chef Middle East said: “Moving strategically is key. The team works closely with suppliers by sharing market sales movement and precise forecast in order to lock the volumes and prices. The same applies even with majority of freight forwarders. We believe the transparency approach works well here with our vendors, so they manage to allocate their resource adequately. In relation with food scarcity, yes it will be a huge concern at least for the next couple of months globally, which we have already started witnessing. Since many of the countries are still facing labour shortages, processing capacity and storage challenges, farmers are discarding their output.”
“Steering away from the conventional methods of forecasting and buying, demand and supply planning management is the biggest realisation and shift the business has taken to run an optimized supply chain at Chef Middle East. Regular interaction with industry experts, supply and logistics partners, thoroughly assessing and monitoring food commodity indexes and most importantly persistent continued communication with customers and suppliers help make a difference. In addition, higher inventory coverage with good use of strategic buying window have helped us optimize a stable supply chain.” Explains Andrews.
Chef Middle East has taken frequent constructive initiatives to counter the global challenges aiming to reduce the impact with a customer-centric approach. Fluid communication with all regional markets and category updates with customers have helped staying well connected. Alternating products with a ‘good-better-best’ approach alongside strong culinary engagement and food cost support have reduced the pandemic impact, enabling the company to wade through troubled water with the least damage.
The distributor is ready to welcome the Expo 2020 in UAE and the FIFA 2022 in Qatar, to cater to the market requirements through product availability across different categories. The team at Chef Middle East is and has been planning for these awaited events for months and will be supplying many pavilions and existing restaurants in Dubai and foodservice operators in Qatar with top-quality products and plenty of culinary inspiration to celebrate these major global events.