Assessing alternative production options for eco-efficient food supply chains using multi-objective optimization

Aleksander Banasik*, Argyris Kanellopoulos, G.D.H. Claassen, Jacqueline M. Bloemhof-Ruwaard, Jack G.A.J. van der Vorst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Due to tremendous losses of resources in modern food supply chains, higher priority should be given to reducing food waste and environmental impacts of food production. In practice, multiple production options are available, but must be quantitatively assessed with respect to economic and environmental performances before they are adopted in food supply chains. The objective of this paper is to develop a mathematical model that can be used for such a quantitative assessment of alternative production options that are associated with different ways to deal with waste in food supply chains, i.e. prevention, recycling, and disposal of food waste. We develop a multi-objective mixed integer linear programming model to derive the set of eco-efficient solutions corresponding to production planning decisions. Environmental performance of the chain is expressed with an indicator based on exergy analysis, which has the potential to capture other commonly used indicators, such as energy consumption, fuel consumption, and waste generation, and express them in a single value. This simplifies the calculation of the eco-efficient frontier, and enables its intuitive graphical representation, which is much easier to communicate to the involved decision makers. The applicability of the developed model is demonstrated on a real-life industrial bread supply chain in the Netherlands. Results confirm the findings from literature that prevention is the best waste management strategy from environmental perspective. The advantages of using exergy as an indicator to capture the environmental performance is demonstrated by comparing the outcomes to other commonly used indicators of environmental performance. We illustrate the potential of studying food production planning decision problems in a multi-objective context, and demonstrate the applicability of the model in the assessment of alternative production options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-362
JournalAnnals of Operations Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Exergy
  • Food production
  • Multi-criteria decision making
  • Production planning
  • Sustainability

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