The central aim of the Food Port project was to improve the accessibility and transport logistic system of different food clusters around the North Sea Region in order to strengthen the food industry within the region and its strategic position as a food hub.
This was achieved through the optimisation and coordination of the food supply chains, delivering tangible benefits to food and logistics sectors and the companies involved (many of which were SMEs). These companies benefited from measures designed to improve efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability, leading e.g. to increased capacity, cost efficiency, a higher service level and a lower carbon footprint.
Transnational cooperation across the sectors of logistics and food in the North Sea Region, would make the North Sea Region a dynamic and leading area for food distribution and processing and lead to new Value Added Logistic Activities and Value Added Services.
Across the North Sea Region food producers and processing companies form a large part of the region’s economy. Food production and consumption generates a large volume of road traffic. Food products, beverages and tobacco transport accounted for the largest share of European road tonne-kilometres in 2008, at over 15%. The next highest, at 10%, was products of agriculture, hunting, and forestry; fish and other fishing products, (source: Eurostat: Statistics in Focus 86/2009).
As a result of early investigations, the partnership identified various inadequacies and inefficiencies in the food supply chain. For example, food distribution relied heavily on road transport, leading to congestion, poor air quality and environmental degradation. Containers delivering food to one region returned empty to their port of origin.
Demands for environmentally friendly food production and distribution practices were beginning to emerge. It was anticipated that this would increase as awareness of increasing costs and damage to the environment became more apparent. The Food Port partners shared a similar motivation and interest to develop better systems of food logistics to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the food supply chain within the North Sea Region.