WUWM Conference – “Disruptions and Challenges in the Fresh Food Market Supply Chain”

15 - 17 May 2019
Belgrade, Serbia

Executive summary:

During the WUWM Conference in Belgrade experts discussed the effects of current agriculture policies on modern food markets and the availability of a more diverse offer of markets and quality products due to the “Guaranteed domestic – Markets of Serbia” certification project. In addition, the attendants examined dominant problems and disruptive technologies in the industry, such as the overflow of different types of record-keeping tools and transparency issues. Blockchain technology (a time-stamped series of data records-ledgers) was proposed as a possible solution to most of these challenges as it creates a transparent food supply ecosystem with all participants able to trace the records and the history.

The key outcomes of this meeting are:

  1. Dominant issues identified in today’s fresh food supply chain are
    1. Too many participants making it a complex field
    2. Poor-ineffective information exchange
    3. Many different types of record-keeping methods and tools, from modern ERPs to lengthy excel sheets, email chains and paper printouts
    4. Data silos, rarely cover a product’s full supply chain, unable to capture the first mile from the original source
    5. Traceability problems
    6. Lack of trust – corruption – incidences of changing expiry dates
    7. Transparency issues
    8. Unfair “ecosystems” for producers and/or small intermediaries
  2. The use of blockchain can help tackle the above issues. A blockchain is, in the simplest of terms, a time-stamped series of data records-ledgers (i.e. block), managed by cluster of computers, not owned by any single entity. Each of these blocks is validated-verified and linked to the others using cryptographic principles (i.e. chain). The data is immutable (cannot be modified) and available to all parties. System-wide consensus on the validity of an entire history of transactions. Transactions are performed under specific & common agreements – smart contracts. All participants can trace the records and the history. It:
    1. Provides trustable information about food → transparent food supply ecosystems
    2. Enhances food safety
    3. Stops food fraud – the system is open for everyone to see
    4. Ensures fresher food since no one will risk sending “non-fresh” food in an open system
    5. Eliminates food waste – every single piece of food is accounted for
    6. Ensures sustainability (food comes from a verified – sustainable source)
    7. Promotes responsibility among the food producers
    8. Empowers customers to make better buying choices.
  3. The next steps in blockchain in the wholesale industry are
    1. Inform and encourage wholesale companies inside the Market, in order to create blockchains with their partners (suppliers, customers)
    2. Set up a blockchain network with the use of proprietary solutions, developed by third-party companies. Participation: optional or obligatory 
  4. Some other key technology integration trends to watch are:
    1. Industry 4.0
    2. Big data
    3. Artificial intelligence
    4. Machine learning
    5. Virtual and augmented reality
  5. The certification project “Guaranteed domestic – Markets of Serbia” should enable the potential for the production of more valuable foods, which is owned by small agricultural producers, and to push them in a good direction as well as to provide a multiple benefit because it will:
    1. provide a more diverse offer on markets and new guidelines for adapting to retail market requirements;
    2. offer a rich selection of quality and safe food from the local environment to more demanding ecologically and healthily responsible customers;
    3. contribute to the preservation of the rural environment and to encourage the development of family entrepreneurship.

Main issues discussed:

    • The effects of current agriculture policies on modern food markets
      • Prof. Vlade Zarić, University of Belgrade, Faculty of Agriculture, Serbia
      • Dr Altivo Almeida Cunha, FAO’s consultant for Latin America and the Caribbean on Wholesale Markets, former President of Ceasaminas Wholesale Market (Belo Horizonte), Brazil
      • Vuk Radojević, Provincial Secretary for Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry, Serbia
      • Panel discussion
        • Fabio Massimo Pallottini, Managing Director CAR and Chairman ITALMERCATI, Italy
        • Dan Carmody, President Eastern Market Corporation, USA
        • Konstantinos Rotsios, Academic Dean, American Farm School of Thessaloniki, Greece
        • Silvia Llerena, Director of Business Development of MERCASA, Spain
        • Savo Duvnjak, Executive Director, Business Association of Serbian Markets
    • Wholesale and retail markets modernisation and renovation experiences
      • Roberto Alonso Gordón, Co-Founder and CEO of the Platform for support to retail markets DREAMING MARKETS, Mexico
      • Bojan Bajagic, Director of JKP, ” Gradske pijace” Belgrade, Serbia
      • Jean-Paul Auguste, President, Groupe Geraud, France
      • Benoît Juster, Executive Director, SEMMARIS, Paris, France
      • Pablo Vilanova, Director of Strategy, MERCABARNA, Barcelona, Spain
      • Darren Henaghan, Managing Director, Borough Market, UK
    • Disruptive technologies potential impact on food market strategies
      • Josep Tejedo, Managing Director, MERCABARNA, Barcelona, Spain
      • Bojana Kuveljic, Deputy Director and Logistics Manager at AWT International, Serbia
      • Dr Donald J. Darnall, Executive Director of the Maryland Food Center Authority (the “MFCA”) USA and WUWM Honorary Chairman
      • Ioannis Nanos, Business & ICT Consultant, Ext. Lecturer at University of Macedonia, former CEO of the Central Market of Thessaloniki, Greece
      • Wu Mengqiu, Shanghai Vegetable Group, China
      • Dr J S Yadav, Managing Director COSAMB (National Council of State Agricultural Marketing Boards), New Delhi, India
      • Nikica Marinkovic, Box System LLC, Serbia
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