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Food distribution involves transporting food from suppliers to consumers. Environmental conditions in certain areas are more conducive to producing certain types of crops, and farmers based in these areas produce large numbers of crops that have to be dispersed to other locations. Different types of livestock are more suited to certain climates, and this means that livestock farming tends to be concentrated in particular areas. Governments and businesses are responsible for developing efficient food distribution networks to ensure that supply does not outstrip demand.
Retailers and local governments have to determine the nutritional needs of each community. After foodstuff needs are determined, business and civic leaders have to make arrangements to transport goods to location. The distributors typically use roads, boats, and airplanes to transport food over long distances. Some kinds of food deteriorate very quickly, in which case the construction of direct roads that can handle high volumes of traffic becomes very important. The construction of new airports and shipping ports helps to improve the efficiency of food distribution networks.
Protecting the produce is one of the most important aspects of the food distribution process. When food is in transit, distribution companies have to ensure that the food is kept at a temperature that prevents it from spoiling. Planes and distribution trucks are fitted with refrigeration systems and freezers. Measures also have to be taken protect foodstuffs and beverages that are stored in fragile containers, such as glass jars or bottles.
In some developing nations, high poverty levels and natural disasters mean significant numbers of the population become reliant upon food donations made by the national government or foreign donors. Roads, airports, and rail networks in these nations are often poorly maintained, which makes it more difficult to transport produce within a short period of time. People involved in food distribution in developing nations tend to distribute types of food that do not require refrigeration and do not spoil easily.
During wars and conflicts, distribution networks are sometimes targeted by warring factions because cutting off food supplies gives factions a physical and psychological advantage. Security forces often have to accompany trucks distributing food in conflict areas to make sure that those in need of food receive it without delay. Stolen food and drinks often end up being sold for high prices on the black market in war-torn nations. Providing adequate security for the food distribution network is the only way to ensure the population’s needs are met.
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