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Business Stories

Driving the last mile for food security for Qatar

Most shoppers in Qatar don’t think twice when they buy blueberries from Peru or Poland or bananas from Columbia. They may have steaks from Australia for dinner one night or splurge out on a Maine lobster the next. Enjoying a healthy diet is a lifestyle choice in Qatar. The availability of that choice is supported by a complex supply chain expertise that makes it all possible.


Food security is not just about having adequate and dependable supplies to feed a nation’s populace, it is also about hygiene, quality, security and affordability. It is a multi-faceted issue and by necessity it requires food production that, in some cases, is supported by government subsidies. Encouraging local agricultural production and fostering companies, who have risen to the challenge and, through innovation and advanced technologies, have filled supply gaps in Qatar is all part of the national food security strategy. GWC is an important part of that.


Qatar’s food security is rarely given a second thought by the average consumer, but it’s been a focus of intense attention by the government and private sector since even before the blockade began. What consumers seldom realize is the infrastructure in place in Qatar that makes our food security possible, powered by forward thinking policy makers working closely with private and public sector actors.


Among those actors, GWC is proud to support Qatar’s food security with our deep logistical expertise. GWC, an official logistics provider of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™, is certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), an international standard-setting body, for the receipt, storage of delivery of all foodstuffs. We serve, among our key customers in Qatar, many of the largest and most sophisticated food service companies, but also local farms and production agents, working up and down the logistics value chain. The key to understanding this is to view logistics as a system: the inbound input GWC receives involves direct interface with the suppliers and includes all the activities required to receive, store, and disseminate inputs – valuable and perishable foodstuffs – to the clients who ordered the products.


GWC customers taking advantage of the company’s capacity for the storage of over 250,000 pallet locations. At any given time, GWC will safely warehouse over18,000 tons of dry foodstuffs, 13,000 tons of frozen products and 1,400 tons of chilled perishables.


The reason Qatar’s residents have food choices that rival those in Paris or New York is the scale and expertise that companies like GWC possess. The ability to get thousands of perishables delivered on time to all the large, medium and small retailers in the country requires an unrivalled logistical expertise and end-to-end integrated solutions. GWC has been ahead of consumer demand for a decade, anticipating the requirements needed to ensure Qatar’s tables are full of fresh and healthy food.


In the rest of the world, something like 30 percent of the world’s fresh meat and produce goes to waste according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. This is particularly true in developing countries where hunger is a real issue. In India the FAO estimates that 50 percent of the country’s fresh produce goes to waste because of spoilage. The organization also notes that the resources used to produce food that is eventually lost or wasted account for approximately 4.4 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) annually, making food loss and waste the world’s third largest emitter, after only China and the United States.


Until the early 20th century, even highly developed countries had to rely on locally produced meat, vegetables and fruits. In the 1950s bananas were an exotic fruit in the UK. The craze for salads on the east coast of America only began in the same decade when refrigerated railroad cars allowed farmers in California to ship lettuce to the East Coast.


Refrigerated trucks weren’t introduced in the United States until 1938. Frederick McKinley Jones, an American inventor, received the first patent for a refrigerated truck in 1940 although mechanically cooled trucks were used in the ice cream industry in America since 1925. The refrigerated shipping container, or reefer, wasn’t fully perfected until the late 1960s. The cold food chain developed organically in the developed world in the mid-1950s, driven mainly by large grocery chains in North America and Europe.


Established in 2004, GWC has drawn from expertise in markets around the world and adapted technologies, storage capacities, and delivery options that work best for Qatar. Using integrated import clearance, inventory management, delivery and fulfillment systems, backed by world-leading technology systems, GWC has been able to deliver greater food security and consequently greater consumer choice across the country.


In logistics, we talk a lot about ‘The Last Mile’ – meaning the final journey of delivery to the end user. What we’re most excited about these days is helping Qatar to reach its own last mile in food security. Whether it’s connecting to local farms, diversifying our import markets, or managing distribution to reduce waste and inefficiency, GWC is investing to get us there.