Purpose – The aim of this empirical paper is to study information sharing in fresh food supply chains, with a specific goal of reducing waste and facilitating sustainable performance. The study focuses on material and information flow issues, specifically on sharing demand and shelf-life data. Design/methodology/approach – This work has been designed as an exploratory case study in three fresh food supply chains, milk, fresh fish, and fresh poultry, in the Nordic countries. The cases are based on interviews and data from the databases of the companies involved. Each case focuses on analyzing information flow, particularly the current order patterns and forecasting and planning process, and material flow, focusing on the supply chain structure. In two cases significant changes have been made to forecasting processes and material flow, while the third case intends to identify the most beneficial uses of shared information to create a sustainable fresh food supply chain. Findings –The performance of the perishable food chain can be improved by more efficient information sharing. The key to improved operations is how and for which purposes the shared data should be used. In addition, changes in the supply chain structure were needed to speed up the deliveries and ensure shelf availability. The cross-case analysis revealed that improved performance was obtained with parallel changes in information sharing and usage and in material flow. Originality/value – Few studies approach the problem of waste and sustainability from an integrated supply chain perspective. This paper links data sharing with the sustainability performance of the supply chain as a whole.
International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, 2013, Vol 43, Issue 3, p. 262-276