Hidden Food Heroes of the Supply Chain

Today, more than 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food. With the global population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, a call to action is required to support #WorldFoodDay.

As a central link within the economy and food supply chain, wholesale distributors act behind the scenes to source and distribute goods to those in need around the world.

Restaurants, cafeterias, industrial caterers, hospitals, nursing homes, and other users of foodservice products depend on wholesale distributors to deliver high-quality products — such as protein, produce, beverages, kitchen equipment, dining supplies, and cleaning supplies — when, where, and how they need them.

Unfortunately, approximately 14 percent of the food produced for human consumption is lost each year before it ever reaches the wholesale market. Even worse, additional food is wasted at the retail and consumer stages of the supply chain.

With the #WorldFoodDay movement, leading industry practitioners are turning the tables on hunger relief, food donation, and sustainability efforts around the world.

Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together: Our Actions Are Our Future

World Food Day was brought to life by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a collective initiative across 150 countries. As the most celebrated day of the United Nations (UN) calendar, World Food Day promotes worldwide awareness and action for hunger relief and healthy diets.

This year’s World Food Day theme — “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our Actions Are Our Future.” — celebrates the 75th anniversary of FAO. This theme builds on decades of progress within the industry while acknowledging the recent global pandemic, which has had a notable impact on consumer behavior and the food supply chain. Depending on the ever-changing economic landscape, COVID-19 is expected to add another 83 to 132 million people to the already 2 billion hungry people around the world.

To relieve worldwide hunger, one may suggest the simple answer of producing more food. Considering one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year, there is a better way. FAO advises that the answer lies in a renewed focus on the sustainability of food systems.

“Innovative technologies, science, research, and private sector companies can help us to transform the ways in which we produce and consume food – for the well-being of our communities, our economies, and our planet,” states the Food and Agriculture Organization.

As a core player in the supply chain, leading wholesale distributors are dedicated to innovating with sustainable sourcing, purchasing, and distribution practices.

Celebrating #FoodHeroes in Wholesale Distribution

Wholesale distributors are acting as #FoodHeroes by effectively utilizing technology to positively impact lives around the world, transforming how food is produced, processed, traded, consumed, and wasted to ensure a resilient and sustainable future.

One inspiring example of a food hero in today’s challenging landscape is National DCP. The company was formed in 2012 after five regional companies merged into one national cooperative and has been recognized with numerous awards including Food Logistics’ Rockstars of the Supply Chain for four consecutive years.

Now representing one of the largest foodservice distributors in the United States, National DCP operates as a US$2 billion supply chain management organization serving nearly 10,000 Dunkin’ quick-service restaurants in the U.S. and distributing products to more than 40 countries.

NDCP prides itself on imagining a different, better way whenever possible. The company is constantly seeking and embracing innovation, investigating new supply chain opportunities and practices to deliver increased value to its members. To support its passion and curiosity, the NDCP Community Connexions program supports impactful causes in the areas of healthcare, food, and sustainability that are important to its customers and employees.

“Giving back to the community by supporting hunger relief, sustainability, and causes related to health and wellness is a significant priority for National DCP,” said Scott Carter, chief executive officer of National DCP. “As a supply chain leader in the food service industry, we understand the important role organizations such as ours play in helping people dealing with hunger, especially during these challenging times.”

Since the inception of the NDCP Community Connexions corporate social responsibility initiative, extra focus has been placed on:

  • Hunger relief: Supporting hunger needs through partnerships with food banks and hunger relief organizations
  • Sustainability: Supporting a green environment through sustainable building, sourcing, and packaging initiatives
  • Healthcare: Supporting research and development through partnerships with hospitals and research organizations

Through partnerships formed with Feeding America and other local organizations, NDCP has donated more than 180,000 pounds of food and over 4,000 gallons of dairy during the height of COVID-19.

Outside of the pandemic itself, NDCP and Dunkin’ Donut franchises have raised more than $6.1 million for the Joy in Childhood Foundation program, which aims to bring the simple joys of childhood to kids battling hunger or illness. Since 2006, the Joy in Childhood Foundation has distributed more than $26 million in grants to national and local nonprofits that provide joy to kids battling hunger and illness. In 2019 alone, the foundation provided 5.3 million meals to children and families through grants.

National DCP is one of the many hidden food heroes of the supply chain that has risen to the challenge to battle hunger relief and make food systems more resilient and robust so they can withstand increasing volatility. We hope that NDCP inspires your organization to take action to support our world’s future – however big or small it may be, every bit helps.

How to Help

Corporations and citizens alike can have a massive impact on how communities, economies, and the food supply chain respond to a range of challenges, including hunger relief and climate change.

Here are six recommendations to support sustainable food systems within an organization:

  1. Promote food safety: Respect national food safety regulations and measures to protect food as well as staff. Reinforce good hygiene practices and improved food safety and quality measures along the food chains, especially in developing countries.
  2. Adopt intelligent technologies: Invest in sustainable, resilient food systems supported by intelligent technologies that will adequately source based upon customer demand, quickly accommodate food diversion, track and trace, and more.
  3. Share knowledge: Share expertise or technologies with other industry practitioners to help improve sustainable food production and livelihoods. For example, SAP partnered with GENYOUth to develop a mobile app that helped families find food and free resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Adopt sustainable practices: Aim to source ethical products from sustainable suppliers and focus on enabling a supply chain with a solid waste reduction program.
  5. Create a food donation program: Food distributors in the U.S. alone donate 9 million cases of food and beverage products and volunteer 368,000 hours to charity annually. An effective food donation program can positively impact communities in addition to improving your bottom line and brand image.
  6. Inspire action within an organization and community: Develop a corporate social responsibility initiative like National DCP that inspires action within your team to fight hunger and build sustainable practices. Roll up your sleeves and get involved in charity organizations that align with your organization’s brand, mission, and vision to make a difference in your local community.

For more information about how SAP can help the food service distribution industry build a sustainable and resilient future, visit the Wholesale Distribution area of sap.com and follow SAP Industries on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Magnus Meier is vice president and global head of the Wholesale Distribution Business Unit at SAP. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.