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Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2044; doi:10.3390/su9112044

Designing Sustainable Cold Chains for Long-Range Food Distribution: Energy-Effective Corridors on the Silk Road Belt

Department of Industrial Engineering, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Viale Risorgimento, 2, 40132 Bologna, Italy
Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padova, Stradella S. Nicola, 3, 36100 Vicenza, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 October 2017 / Revised: 27 October 2017 / Accepted: 1 November 2017 / Published: 8 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Food Supply Chain and Food Industry)
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Modern food production-distribution processes represent a critical stressor for the environment and for natural ecosystems. The rising flows of food across growing and consumption areas couple with the higher expectations of consumers for the quality of products and compel the intensive use of refrigerated rooms and transport means throughout the food supply chain. In order to aid the design of sustainable cold chains that incorporate such aspects, this paper proposes a mixed integer linear programming model to minimize the total energy consumption associated with the cold operations experienced by perishable products. This model is intended for food traders, logistics practitioners, retail managers, and importers collaboratively called to design and plan a cost and environmentally effective supply strategy, physical channels, and infrastructures for cold chains. The proposed model is validated with a case study inspired by the distribution of two example food products, namely fresh apples and ice cream, along the New Silk Road connecting Europe and China. The illustrated analysis investigates the effect of alternative routes and transport modes on the sustainability of the cold chain. It is found that the most energy-efficient route for ice cream is via rail over a northern route and, for apples, is via a southern maritime route, and, for these two routes, the ratios of the total energy consumed to the energy content of the food are 760 and 913, respectively. By incorporating the energy lost due to the food quality decay, the model identifies the optimal route to adopt in accordance with the shelf life and the conservation temperature of each product. View Full-Text
Keywords: cold chain; food distribution; energy; logistics; transport; optimization; Silk Road cold chain; food distribution; energy; logistics; transport; optimization; Silk Road

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Gallo, A.; Accorsi, R.; Baruffaldi, G.; Manzini, R. Designing Sustainable Cold Chains for Long-Range Food Distribution: Energy-Effective Corridors on the Silk Road Belt. Sustainability 2017, 9, 2044.

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