From 1920 to 2020: A Fresh Food Supply Chain Retrospective

Supply chains and distribution systems have significantly developed since the early 1920s. During that time period, we were dependent on boats, trains, and wagons to move food from farms to cities. With the advent of trucks, planes, and cold storage, we were able to globalize our food supply and bring fresh produce to every corner of the world. In this post, we will take a look at how the fresh food supply chain has evolved over the past 100 years!

The 1920s were a time of great change for the food industry. Prior to this decade, most food was grown locally and sold in open-air markets. The food supply chain began to evolve with the development of canning and freezing technologies. This allowed perishables to be shipped long distances, which would have normally spoiled prior to this technology. The first refrigerated truck was invented in 1924. These trucks were transporting millions of pounds of fresh produce from farms to cities across America by the end of the decade.

The 1930s saw the advent of refrigerated rail cars. This allowed for perishable goods to be transported at greater distances than ever before. This was a game-changer for the food industry, as it opened up new markets for farmers and food producers. In the 1940s, the first refrigerated container ships were developed, which allowed for the transport of perishable goods by sea.

The 1950s brought about another major change in the food industry: the development of jet aircraft. This new form of transportation made it possible to ship perishable goods anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. The 1960s saw the development of the first computerized inventory control systems. This aided the food supply chain to streamline the process by making it more efficient at every step.

The 1970s were a time of great change for the fresh food supply chain. The invention of containerization allowed food to be shipped in standardized containers, that could be easily loaded and unloaded by forklifts. This made it possible to ship food by truck, train, and plane without having to manually unload and reload each time. The 1980s saw the development of barcodes and scanners. This further streamlined the supply chain by allowing for automated tracking of inventory.

The 1990s were a time of continued innovation in the food supply chain. The development of GPS tracking systems allowed for real-time tracking of shipments. The internet made it possible to track inventory and orders from anywhere in the world. In the 2000s, we saw the rise of e-commerce and online grocery shopping.  This has revolutionized the way we buy our food.

Today, the fresh food supply chain is more efficient and globalized than ever before. Thanks to advances in transportation and technology, we can now enjoy fresh produce from all over the world year-round. As we look to the future, we can only imagine what new innovations will further streamline and improve the fresh food supply chain. Whatever changes lie ahead, one thing is for sure: the food industry will never be the same! How do you think the fresh food supply chain will change in the next 100 years? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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