Risk management in perishable food distribution operations

Yingchao Wang (School of Business, Beijing Technology and Business University, Beijing, China)
Chen Yang (Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China)
Hanpo Hou (School of Business, Beijing Technology and Business University, Beijing, China)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Publication date: 5 October 2019



The purpose of this paper is to predict or even control the food safety risks during the distribution of perishable foods. Considering the food safety risks, the distribution route of perishable foods is reasonably arranged to further improve the efficiency of cold chain distribution and reduce distribution costs.


This paper uses the microbial growth model to identify a food safety risk coefficient to describe the characteristics of food safety risks that increase over time. On this basis, with the goal of minimizing distribution costs, the authors establish a vehicle routing problem with a food safety Risk coefficient and a Time Window (VRPRTW) for perishable foods. Then, the Weight-Parameter Whale Optimization Algorithm (WPWOA) which introduces inertia weight and dynamic parameter into the native whale optimization algorithm is designed for solving this model. Moreover, benchmark functions and numerical simulation are used to test the performance of the WPWOA.


Based on numerical simulation, the authors obtained the distribution path of perishable foods under the restriction of food safety risks. Moreover, the WPWOA can significantly outperform other algorithms on most of the benchmark functions, and it is faster and more robust than the native WOA and avoids premature convergence.


This study indicates that the established model and the algorithm are effective to control the risk of perishable food in distribution process. Besides, it extends the existing literature and can provide a theoretical basis and practical guidance for the vehicle routing problem of perishable foods.



The authors would like to thank the strong support provided by the Beijing Social Science Foundation Project (No. 17GLB015), Beijing Institute of Technology Research Fund Program for Young Scholars and the Graduate Research Capacity Improvement Program in 2019.


Wang, Y., Yang, C. and Hou, H. (2019), "Risk management in perishable food distribution operations", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMDS-03-2019-0149

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