Over the past 50 years, vertically integrated multinationals dominated global food markets by providing huge product diversity at low prices. Such systems are characterized by long supply chains capable of achieving high cost efficiencies resulting from the use of cheap raw materials, high chemical inputs, industrial shelf-life extension processes, economies of scale and mechanization. This dominant position on the market, however, has been achieved at a heavy cost on the global environment, generated by massive food wastage, and by a steady supply of fossil fuels. For such reasons, global supply chains are considered unsustainable and new food systems are being promoted in order to replace them on the long run. It is generally recognized that, in order to be sustainable and competitive a food system must be based on shortened/local supply chains thus reducing the inefficiencies of multiple marginalization. The current market situation, characterized an ever increasing request for higher quality standards, healthy eating, and a lower carbon footprint is an ideal environment for the growth of such systems. In this context, Short food supply chains (SFSCs), as defined in Reg.(EU) n.1305/13, have been recently proposed alternative food systems able to create a direct relationship between producers and consumers and to provide quality products and long-Term sustainability. Due to their peculiarities, however, SFSCs require proper methodologies to respond to timely adapt market demand fluctuations and to manage perishable inventories. This paper, in particular, focuses on the logistics of SFSCs and proposes a methodology for optimal inventory management, with the aim to preserve the shelf-life (freshness, safety, nutritional properties etc.) of the products, as well as to ensure supply chain efficiency. A numerical application is proposed in order to prove the effectiveness of the mode.
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