Distribution & Logistics discussion

Written up by Jodi
Key groups indicating interest in ongoing discussion include: Alasdair Moodie (Farm Gate online); Becky Banks (Grow Lightly); Lynda Hoare (Baw Baw Food Hub); Kaylene (Meeniyan IGA); Note: Becky from Grow Lightly to coordinate/follow up conversation

Main Questions/Problems

It can be difficult to gain access to local food and there is a lot of inefficiency with everything going in/out of Epping Markets. Distribution costs are expensive for small producers. Many people are making similar journeys & could potentially partner together to save time/money
How can we collaborate to improve the distribution logistics in Southern Gippsland, to distribute food more easily in the region?
Would it make sense to have smaller, decentralised distribution centres/depos strategically located throughout Gippsland to support local food distribution?
What partnerships might there be available with existing distribution companies / systems?
What’s the best way to communicate with each other? Farmers are time-poor, typically don’t have time to learn new hi-tech systems (e.g. online communication forums, online tools/apps)

Gap areas/Needs

Smaller, regional distribution centre(s) in Southern Gippsland (and other locations in Gippsland which are strategically located and easily accessible to producers and food retailers in Gippsland)
User-friendly/low-tech communication forum between producers (and with food retailers) to explore potential logistics partnerships / solutions
A central advice point where people could express their needs/gaps etc. and gain professional advice
Resources/support (e.g. Council / regional development support) for investigating solutions to collaborative logistics (e.g. research, investment in a physical refrigerated depo facility)

Opportunities/Ideas/Steps that could assist

Starting a meeting/regular discussion group with key interested people to explore solutions and collaborative logistics.
Setting up Facebook Group for logistics to allow people to quickly/easily contact each other (e.g. who’s doing a market run? Does anyone need anything brought back from the market?)
Explore using existing software (rather than setting up something new):
Southern Gippsland Food Map – not many people have had customers from this so far, can it be further developed to facilitate logistics/communications between farmers/other functions? (also it would benefit from more promotion)
Australian Fair Food Forum – an online ‘go to’ communications forum for anyone involved in the local fair food movement (https://fairfoodforum.org.au/t/welcome-to-the-australian-fair-food-forum/21), functions include: TRADING POST, place to advertise (‘WANTED’, ‘OFFER’ etc.), post Announcements / Jobs / Events
Farmgate Online is developing a back end to their website which could potentially facilitate / help in this space
Looking at existing models and partnerships & what they can offer/teach us, e.g.:
“cross-docking” which Met Cash perform for IGAs (comment by Kaylene, IGA Meeniyan);
Dandenong Distribution Centre (FarmGate Online currently partner with them);
Could the future redevelopment in the region (replacing mining) be an opportunity for a new industry focused around local food distribution logistics?
Centrally-owned resources? E.g. vehicles that can be shared by producers?

Useful resources and contacts

Farming Together grant (https://agworks.com.au/) – a resource for primary producers to help value-add, build marketplace strength and boost returns. Could be used to apply for a research grant/project manager to explore the establishment of a new regional distribution operation / facility…
Melbourne Farmers Markets want to support – how can they help?

Side question (more related to growers discussion group?) – How do you know when to expand business or not? Question came from a gentleman who owns a heritage apple orchard and nursery and wants to expand, but there isn’t a guaranteed market where they could send all their produce – if they had more certainty they would scale up.