Document Type : Research Paper


1 Doctoral student of Management Department, Najaf Abad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najaf Abad, Iran.

2 Associate Professor, Department of Management, Najaf Abad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najaf Abad, Iran.

3 Professor, Department of Management, Najaf Abad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najaf Abad, Iran.


There is a growing concern about the social and environmental impact of the food supply chain, and the food industry faces numerous challenges. This has created significant pressure from various stakeholders to enhance the sustainable performance of the life cycle of perishable products. In this study, we aim to assess the sustainability of the supply chain for perishable products in the food industry. After examining both external and internal factors and identifying a research gap, the structure of the present study involves a four-stage supply chain. Input and output variables were selected based on perishable products and the three dimensions of sustainability. To achieve this goal, we conducted field and library studies to identify and extract relevant input, output, and intermediary indicators for evaluating the relative efficiency of supply chains in various sectors. Subsequently, we examined the supply chain's efficiency and ranked the efficient units. Given the primary focus on perishable materials, our study involved 18 dairy and meat factories in Fars province as the statistical population. We utilized WinQSB software to analyze network downtime and to model and solve the data. The results highlight that the most significant challenges faced by the companies are in the supply sector. Based on these findings, we provide recommendations for companies to enhance their performance.
In the food industry, there are numerous inventory systems that deal with perishable items, which have a limited shelf life. These perishable items encompass a wide range of products, including food, fruits, and medicine. Given the extensive use of these products, it is crucial to model perishable products within a supply chain context. Furthermore, reviewing the contracts and regulations among the supply chain members is of great importance for decision-making in interactive conditions. This study aims to determine the most effective ordering policies at different levels of the perishable food supply chain. The goal is to maximize the overall profit of the chain while minimizing social and environmental negative impacts. Our supply chain consists of four levels, including suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. We have thoroughly investigated the dimensions of sustainable development, ultimately leading to an assessment of the overall performance of the chain. The primary research question we seek to answer is: 'How does the performance of the perishable product supply chain align with a sustainable development approach?
In this section, we employed the network data overlay analysis model to assess the performance of the research supply chain and determine the efficiency of the research units, with a particular focus on perishable products. Conventional Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) models typically overlook the steps and internal processes within Decision-Making Units (DMUs). These conventional DEA models treat each company as a DMU and limit their calculations to initial inputs and final outputs. Given that DEA has been increasingly used in recent years for buyer-seller relationships, production-distribution processes, and performance evaluations in supply chains, and recognizing that a supply chain is a unique decision-making unit with not only input and output indicators but also intermediary indicators that flow from one stage to the next, traditional data envelopment analysis models may fall short in accurately and comprehensively evaluating supply chain performance due to the network or multi-stage nature of the supply chain. Hence, this study adopts the NDEA model with a fresh approach, calculating efficiency based on sustainability indicators related to perishable products in 18 manufacturing supply chains of dairy, meat, and protein products. Conducting an in-depth study to identify the significant parameters in the research field is a prerequisite for any applied research. To this end, we conducted extensive field and library research to investigate variables and indicators across various supply chain activities. This allowed us to identify and extract meaningful input, output, and intermediate indicators for evaluating supply chain performance in the supplier's sector. After reviewing existing literature, we identified 51 specific indicators that play a crucial role in the research.
According to research findings, it is shown that the average efficiency of the supply chain for the production and distribution of perishable products in the financial year studied by the research was 0.9634% in the suppliers' sector. This average was 0.9899 in the producers' sector, 0.9903 in the distributors' sector, and 0.9707 in the retailers' sector. Therefore, the average efficiency indicates that the most significant inefficiency problems of the studied companies are related to the supplier sector. Furthermore, the overall average efficiency is 0.9950. According to the results obtained from the Anderson-Piterson Method for Employer Units Ranking, DMU3's Supply Chain demonstrates strong efficiency, and the supply chains of DMU7, DMU2, and DMU4 followed in the subsequent rankings. All supply chains were rated based on efficiency.
Among the supply chains of the 18 companies studied in the research that deal with perishable products, the supplier process exhibits lower efficiency scores compared to the production, distribution, and sales processes. Consequently, it is recommended that inefficient companies at each stage take action to identify the factors causing inefficiency in the production, distribution, and sale processes of perishable products. This can be achieved by modeling the performance of efficient companies, with the goal of improving the efficiency at each stage and overall efficiency. Based on the model and research results, the following topics are suggested for future research: Given that most of the inefficiency is associated with the first stage of the model, it is advisable to pay greater attention to the supply of raw materials and transportation, or to select different input indicators. The supply of raw materials for factories emerged as one of the major challenges in this research, highlighting the inefficiency at the first stage. It is recommended that separate modeling be conducted to address the supply of raw materials in the food industry. The highest inefficiency in the fourth stage of the model is attributed to the limited consideration of the social dimension in sustainable development. For future research, it is suggested to focus more on social dimension indicators, such as satisfaction, motivation, empowerment, respect, mutual trust, social commitment, and the creation of suitable working conditions, as well as workers' health and safety. Regarding the inefficiency in the second stage (manufacturers), future research could explore strategies to enhance the freshness of raw materials and the shelf life of perishable products. For the inefficiency in the third stage (distributors), future research should concentrate on modeling and designing innovative distribution systems and routing for perishable products.


Main Subjects


    1. Arkajyoti De, Surya PrakashSingh, (2020),Analysis of fuzzy applications in the agri-supply chain: A literature review, Journal of Cleaner Production, Available online 8 October 2020, 124577,
    2. Ahmed Mohammed, QianWang, (2017), The fuzzy multi-objective distribution planner for a green meat supply chain, International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 184, February 2017, Pages 47-58,
    3. Bastas Ali, Liyanage Kapila, (2018), Sustainable supply chain quality management: A systematic review, Journal of Cleaner Production 181 (2018) 726e744,
    4. Biuki Mehdi, Abolfazl Kazemi, Alireza Alinezhad, (2020), An integrated location-routing-inventory model for sustainable design of a perishable products supply chain network, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 260, 1 July 2020, 120842,
    5. Babaee Erfan. serhan Nadi, (2022), Integrated design of sustainable supply chain and transportation network using a fuzzy bi-level decision support system for perishable products, Expert Systems with Applications, Volume 195, 1 June 2022, 116628,
    6. L. Martins, M.V. Pato, (2019), Supply chain sustainability: A tertiary literature review, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 225, Issue 5, 2019, Pages 995-1016, .03.250
    7. Chen Shuo, Berretta Regina, Clark Alistair, Moscato Pablo, (2019), Lot Sizing and Scheduling for Perishable Food Products: A Review, Reference Module in Food Science,
    8. Das Kanchan, (2018), Integrating lean systems in the design of a sustainable supply chain model, International Journal of Production Economics 198 (2018) 177–190,
    9. Dafne O.C. Morais, Bruno S. Silvestre, (2018), Advancing Social Sustainability in Supply Chain Management: Lessons from Multiple Case Studies in an Emerging Economy, Journal of Cleaner Production, JCLP 13551, 09 July 2018, S0959-6526(18)32070-5, DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.07.097
    10. n, Karimi. b, Mousavi s.m, (2022), Green-resilient supply chain network design for perishable products considering route risk and horizontal collaboration under robust interval-valued type-2 fuzzy uncertainty: A case study in food industry, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 307, 1 April 2022, 114470, 10.1016/
    11. (2012).Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems. Rome: Natural Resources Management and Environment Department.
    12. Giang N. T. Nguyen, Tapan Sarker, (2018), Sustainable coffee supply chain management: a case study in Buon Me Thuot City, Daklak, Vietnam, Nguyen and Sarker International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility, DOI 10.1186/s40991-017-0024-x
    13. Gómez-Luciano Cristino Alberto, Félix Rafael Rondón Domínguez, Fernando González-Andrés, Beatriz Urbano López De Meneses, (2018), Sustainable supply chain management: contributions of supplies markets, Journal of Cleaner Production, JCLP 12180, 20 February 2018, S0959-6526(18)30563-8, DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro. 2018.02.233
    14. Hashemi amiri Omid, ghorbani fahimeh, ji ran, (2023), Integrated supplier selection, scheduling, and routing problem for perishable product supply chain: A distributionally robust approach, Computers & Industrial Engineering, Volume 175, January 2023, 108845,
    15. Jouzdani Javid, Govindan Kannan, (2020), On the sustainable perishable food supply chain network design: A dairy products case to achieve sustainable development goals, Journal of Cleaner Production, Available online 16 July 2020, 123060,
    16. Jia Fu, Sujie Peng, Green Jonathan, Koh Lenny, Chen Xiaowei, (2020). Soybean supply chain management and sustainability: A systematic literature review, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 255, 10 May 2020, 120254.
    17. Jia Fu, Zuluaga Laura, Bailey Adrian, Rueda Ximena, (2018), Sustainable supply chain management in developing countries: An analysis of the literature, Journal of Cleaner Production, JCLP 12506, 23 March 2018, S0959-6526(18)30925-9, DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.03.248
    18. Jadhav Akshay, Stuart Orr, Mohsin Malik, (2018), The role of supply chain orientation in achieving supply chain sustainability, International Journal of Production Economics 0925-5273, 29 July 2018,
    19. Janssen Larissa, Claus Thorsten, Sauer Jürgen, (2016), Literature review of deteriorating inventory models by key topics from 2012 to 2015, International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 182, December 2016, Pages 86-112,
    20. Krishnan Ramesh, Agarwal Renu, Bajada Christopher, K.Arshinder, (2020),Redesigning a food supply chain for environmental sustainability – An analysis of resource use and recovery, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 242, 1 January 2020, 118374.
    21. Kamble Sachin.S, Angappa Gunasekaran, Shradha A.Gawankar, (2019), Achieving sustainable performance in a data-driven agriculture supply chain: A review for research and applications, International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 219, January 2020, Pages 179-194,
    22. Khodakarami Mohsen, Amir Shabani, Reza Farzipoor Saen, Majid Azadi, (2015), Developing distinctive two-stage data envelopment analysis models: An application in evaluating the sustainability of supply chain management, Measurement, Volume 70, Pages 67-74,
    23. Kaasgari Maryam Akbari, Imani Din Mohammad, Mahmoodjanloo Mehdi, (2016), Optimizing a Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) Supply Chain for Perishable Products by Considering Discount: Two Calibrated Meta-heuristic Algorithms, Computers & Industrial Engineering, Received Date: 3 June 2016, CAIE 4529, 12 November 2016, S0360-8352(16)30429-6, DOI: /j.cie.2016.11.013
    24. Koseli Ilker, soysal Mehmet, cimen Mustafa, (2023), Optimizing food logistics through a stochastic inventory routing problem under energy, waste and workforce concerns, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 389, 20 February 2023, 136094,
    25. Krishnan Ramesh, Agarwal Renu, Bajada Christopher, K.Arshinder, (2020),Redesigning a food supply chain for environmental sustainability – An analysis of resource use and recovery, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 242, 1 January 2020, 118374.
    26. Coelho, Gilbert Laporte, (2014), Optimal Joint Replenishment,delivery and inventory management policies for perishable products, Computers &OperationsResearch47(2014)42–52,
    27. Michael Bourlakis, George Maglaras, Emel Aktas, David Gallear, Christos Fotopoulos. (2014) Firm size and sustainable performance in food supply chains: Insights from Greek SMEsʼ, International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 152, June 2014, Pages 112-130.
    28. Mores Giana de Vargas, Caroline Pauletto Spanhol Finocchio, Rodrigo Barichello, Eugenio Avila Pedrozo, (2018), Sustainability and innovation in the Brazilian supply chain of green plastic, Journal of Cleaner Production 177 (2018) 12e18,
    29. Mani Venkatesh a, Gunasekaran Angappa, (2018), Four forces of supply chain social sustainability adoption in emerging economies, International Journal of Production Economics 199 (2018) 150–161,
    30. Mathivathanana Deepak, Kannan Devika, A. Noorul Haq, (2017), Sustainable supply chain management practices in Indian automotiveindustry: A multi-stakeholder view, Resources, Conservation and Recycling xxx (2017) xxx–xxx, 10.1016/
    31. Moreno-Camacho Carlos A, R.Montoya-Torres Jairo, Jaegler Anicia, Gondran Natacha, (2019). Sustainability metrics for real case applications of the supply chain network design problem: A systematic literature review, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 231, 10 September 2019, Pages 600-618. /j.jclepro.2019.05.278
    32. Mathivathanana Deepak, Kannan Devika, A. Noorul Haq, (2017), Sustainable supply chain management practices in Indian automotiveindustry: A multi-stakeholder view, Resources, Conservation and Recycling xxx (2017) xxx–xxx, 10.1016/
    33. Mirmajlesi Seyed Reza, Shafaei Rasoul, (2016), An integrated approach to solve a robust forward/reverse supply chain for short lifetime products, Computers & Industrial Engineering, Volume 97, July 2016, Pages 222-239,
    34. A.H. van Elzakkera, E. Zondervana, N.B. Raikar, H. Hoogland, I.E. Grossmannc, (2014), Optimizing the tactical planning in the Fast Moving Consumer Goodsindustry considering shelf-life restrictions, Computers and Chemical Engineering 66 (2014) 98–109,
    35. Nasiri Mohammad mahdi, miusavi Hossein, nosrati saeede, (2023), A green location-inventory-routing optimization model with simultaneous pickup and delivery under disruption risks, Decision Analytics Journal, Volume 6, March 2023, 100161, j.dajour.2023.100161
    36. Paciarotti Claudia, Torregiani Francesco, (2021), The logistics of the short food supply chain: A literature review, Sustainable Production and Consumption, Volume 26, April 2021, Pages 428-442, 10.1016/j.spc.2020.10.002
    37. Raj Alok, Indranil Biswas, Samir K. Srivastava, (2018), Designing supply contracts for the sustainable supply chain using game theory, Journal of Cleaner Production, JCLP 1230, 5 March 2018, S0959-6526(18)30697-8, DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.03.046
    38. Roy Vivek, Schoenherr Tobias, Charan Parikshit, (2018), The thematic landscape of literature in sustainable supply chain management (SSCM): A review of the principal facets in SSCM development, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 24 February 2018,
    39. Ramezanian Reza, Behboodi Zahra, (2017), Blood supply chain network design under uncertainties in supply and demand considering social aspects, Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Volume 104, August 2017, Pages 69-82,
    40. Santos Andreia, Ana Carvalho, Ana PaulaBarbosa, Póvoa AlexandraMarques, Pedro Amorim, (2019), Assessment and optimization of sustainable forest wood supply chains – A systematic literature review, Forest Policy and Economics, Volume 105, August 2019, Pages 112-135.
    41. Sinha Amit Kumar, Anand Ankush, (2020), Optimizing supply chain network for perishable products using improved bacteria foraging algorithm, Applied Soft Computing, Volume 86, January 2020, 105921,
    42. Salehi Amiri. seyed Amir Hossein, Ali Zahedi Morteza Kazemia, Javad Soroora, Mostafa Hajiaghaei-Keshtel, (2020),Determination of the optimal sales level of perishable goods in a two-echelon supply chain network, Computers & Industrial Engineering, Volume 139, January 2020, 106156,
    43. Sebatjane Makoena, Adetunji Olufemi, (2020), Optimal lot-sizing and shipment decisions in a three-echelon supply chain for growing items with inventory level- and expiration date-dependent demand, Applied Mathematical Modelling, Volume 90, February 2021, Pages 1204-1225,
    44. Sidhartha S. Padhi, Rupesh K. Pati, A. Rajeev, (2018), Framework for selecting sustainable supply chain processes and industries using an integrated approach, Journal of Cleaner Production, JCLP 12253, 28 February 2018, S0959-6526(18)30644-9, DOI: 10.1016/
    45. Rohmer, S. U. K., J. C. Gerdessen, G. D. H. Claassen, (2019), Sustainable supply chain design in the food system with dietary considerations: A multi-objective analysis, European Journal of Operational Research, Volume 273, Issue 3, 16 March 2019, Pages 1149-1164,
    46. Saavedra M. Ricardo M., Cristiano Hora de O. Fontes, Francisco Gaudêncio M. Freires, (2018), Sustainable and renewable energy supply chain: A system dynamics overview, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 82 (2018) 247–259,
    47. M, Ghotbi. M, (2020), The performance measurement of supply chain with network DEA, International Journal of Data Envelopment Analysis, Vol. 8, No. 3, Year 2020 Article ID IJDEA-00422, 10 pages, Research Article,
    48. Shamsi Jamkhaneh A, Rahmani Perchklaei B, Hosseinzadeh Lotfi F, Hadji Molana S M. (2020) Measuring the Efficiency and Performance of the Supply Chain with a Three-Stage Structure using Network Data Envelopment Analysis. jor. 2020; 17 (4):99-116,
    49. Salehi Amiri. seyed Amir Hossein, Ali Zahedi Morteza Kazemia, Javad Soroora, Mostafa Hajiaghaei-Keshtel, (2020),Determination of the optimal sales level of perishable goods in a two-echelon supply chain network, Computers & Industrial Engineering, Volume 139, January 2020, 106156,
    50. Taghikhah Firouze, Alexey Voinov, Nagesh Shukla, Tatiana Filatova, Mikhail Anufriev, (2021), Integrated modeling of extended agro-food supply chains: A systems approach, European Journal of Operational Research, Volume 288, Issue 3, 1 February 2021, Pages 852-868,
    51. TejaMalladi Krishna, Sowlati Taraneh, (2018), Sustainability aspects in Inventory Routing Problem: A review of new trends in the literature, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 197, Part 1, 1 October 2018, Pages 804-814,
    52. Wang Jing, Dai Jun, (2017), "Sustainable supply chain management practices and performance", Industrial Management & Data, 29 December 2017,
    53. Wladimir E. Soto-Silva, Marcela C. González-Araya, Marcos A. Oliva-Fernández, Lluís M. Plà-Aragonés, (2017), Optimizing fresh food logistics for processing: Application for a large Chilean apple supply chain, Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 136 (2017) 42–57,
    54. Xueli Ma, Shuyun Wang, Qingguo Bai, (2019), Coordination of production scheduling and vehicle routing problems for perishable food products, J. Internet Manufacturing and Services, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2019
    55. Yakovleva, N., Sarkis, J., & Sloan, T. (2011). Sustainable benchmarking of supply chains: the case of the food industry. International Journal of Production Research, 1297-1317.
    56. Yavari Mohammad, Mohaddese Geraeli, (2019), Heuristic Method for Robust Optimization Model for Green Closed-Loop Supply Chain Network Design of Perishable Goods, Journal of Cleaner Production, 26 March 2019, S0959-6526(19)30989-8, DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.03.279
    57. Yousefi Saeed, Hadi Shabanpour, Ron Fisher, Reza Farzipoor Saen, (2016), Evaluating and ranking sustainable suppliers by robust dynamic data envelopment analysis, Measurement, Volume 83, Pages 72-85,
    58. Zhang, Q., Shah, N., Wassick, J., Helling, R., Egerschot, P.V. (2014). Sustainable supply chain optimisation: An industrial case study. Computers & Industrial Engineering, Volume 74, August 2014, Pages 68-83.