Probing Victoria’s food supply chain

The Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) is seeking expressions of interest for research on
understanding Victoria’s food freight movements.
VEIL has a research stream that is tasked with identifying and exploring priority needs and opportunities for eco-innovation in Victoria.
Once an area has been identified and understood, the research task can move to ‘revealing the present’ by finding and interpreting innovations – technical, social and systemic – that offer new possibilities and directions. By interpreting and communicating the patterns being expressed in these innovations, we aim to change the landscape of expectations – more fully engaging with the sustainable futures that are possible and already being created. As these innovations and patterns are identified and documented, they can also feed into the design work that happens through VEIL’s visioning work.
VEIL is seeking expressions of interest for two research projects to inform VEIL’s research and visioning around the sustainable movement of goods in Melbourne 2032, with a particular interest in sustainable and resilient food distribution. This EOI is for PART 1: Understanding Victoria s Food Freight Movements.
VEIL s initial analysis of a limited number of new freight solutions identified that most are driven by economic interests to increase efficiency and reduce costs in the context of changing fuel prices, major congestion costs (in Europe) and legislative changes. While there are undoubtedly substantial gains to be made through uptake and adaptation of these innovations throughout supply chains, many could be considered to be in the realm of  doing more efficiently what we already do rather than as signals of more systemic change.
To push into bolder visions of sustainable systems and cities, there is potential to explore more fundamental  freight system change. This would include an exploration of demand management in freight systems: Where are there opportunities to reduce the demand / need for freight journeys? Quantification of the environmental benefits of potential journey substitutions/reductions would then inform further design research into new services and systems that make this possible.
In order to design and innovate new resilient and sustainable, freight systems, we need greater understanding of current goods movements. In line with VEIL s existing research base in food systems, this project will explore the movement of food freight in Victoria   with a view to understanding which components of food freight offer the best opportunities for sustainable freight solutions   including potentially reducing the need / demand for some freight journeys.
Research questions:
  • What is the nature of Victoria s food-related freight transport load?
  • How much of our freight load is related to food?
  • How is this broken down by freight type (transport mode or level   national, regional, last mile) or food type? Does this effect GHG emissions?
  • Are there differences in freight cost, greenhouse emissions, time or complexity for different foods?
  • To what extent are there double-ups, i.e. are there cases where the same things are being freighted out as are being freighted in?
  • How much is critical / replaceable / incidental?
  • Are there different levels of dependence on freight systems for different goods?
  • Overview of characteristics affecting vulnerability / resilience and sustainability.
  • What is the extent of centralisation / distribution?
  • Waste, bottlenecks, critical points.
  • Just-in-time, stockpiles, spoilage.
This research will primarily consist of a literature review, interviews and desktop analysis. It is expected to start with existing work in the area: eg. CERES Food Miles and Road / Rail Scenarios reports and make use of data sources such as the ABS, ABARE or other sources known re freight and transport logistics. It is also expected that the work will investigate and uncover smaller pieces of analysis that may have occurred within industry groups or commercial enterprises. Following on from VEIL s first policy challenges report, it should be framed through  what do we know, what do we need to know  and should be positioned as a discussion starter.
The research could also include a small number of interviews with key stakeholders, but these should be undertaken primarily with a view to uncovering information sources and increasing understanding of the sector rather than as data sources themselves (i.e. this is not a qualitative research task).
The ideal candidate for this work will have significant existing knowledge and skills in this area, be familiar with the literature and information sources and able to quickly and efficiently provide useful analysis based on the available information.
This work will contribute to a VEIL briefing note, possibly as part of a series on distributed systems, which outlines vulnerabilities and opportunities for re-design of Victoria s food freight systems.
Expressions of interest:
We are seeking expressions of interest for a short-term research contract to complete this work for VEIL. We are willing to consider professional consultants or suitably experienced post-graduate students with a high level of existing specialist topic knowledge.
Payment for this project is negotiable. Please provide an expression of interest that outlines your expected method, time requirements and costs to complete the project no later than 31st May 2009.
The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 6th February 2009. For more information contact Kirsten Larsen, Policy Research Manager, Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab. Ph: (03) 8344 9189,

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