Our empirical results show that horizontal collaboration in logistics between producers play a key role in improving vehicle utilisation which, in turn, can significantly reduce carbon emissions by up to 16%.
Small-scale food producers suffer from low margins and weak bargaining power. Local or regional food hubs, which aggregate products from such producers and deliver to final consumers, may improve producers’ economic fortunes and contribute to local economic development.
However, food hubs’ logistics can be particularly costly, often involve small volume journeys, with carbon emissions potentially exceeding those of supermarket-based supply chains.
This research seeks to improve food hubs’ operational and environmental efficiency in logistics by minimising transport costs and carbon emissions. A mathematical model is developed to address the ‘producer-to-hub-to-customer’ problem, drawing on real-world data for a local food hub serving over 150 producers in the North East of England.