Modeling and optimizing

Modeling and optimizing the beef supply chain
Seasonality of beef cattle supplies increases supply coordination challenges. In the Northeastern U.S., for example, producers often argue that lack of access to slaughter and processing facilities limits expansion potential, whereas slaughterers and processors posit that there is not adequate supply to keep plants fully utilized. Therefore, Houtian Ge et al developed an optimization model to determine whether the existing slaughter and processing infrastructure in the region meets producers’ demand for these services. The model identified the minimum-cost solution to efficiently utilize those facilities and to assess relative costs associated with product handling. The analysis explored the spatial structure of the Northeast beef cattle assembly, slaughter, processing, and distribution system that might result if these supply chain activities were regionally coordinated. They found that a consolidated network that allows for coordination of the regional beef supply chain system could address possible bottlenecks of plant capacity. This study sheds light on ways to establish and improve regional coordination mechanisms to enhance efficiency in regional food systems.