Abstract

Consumers require high quality, safe, healthy, and convenient food. Focus shifts to fresh as well as to more value-added ready-to-eat products. As a result, product variety has increased significantly. The food sector shows a number of distinct features, such as an often rapidly declining quality of the products, production processes which show both continuous and batch characteristics, the generation of by-products, severe food safety and sustainability requirements, and the susceptibility of agricultural production to environmental impact factors such as the climate. In close cooperation with engineering and the natural sciences, operations research can contribute substantially to the decision making for numerous specific problems arising in the food sector. It may also support the current industry efforts of a farm-to-fork integration in food supply chains. The primary objective of this special issue is to reflect the recent developments made in this respect and to examine research issues concerned with the analysis and decision support at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels. The importance of the topic has also been recognized by the European Operations Management Association EurOMA when allowing us to promote a special track in its annual conference in 2008. It was then the idea of this special issue was born. We received 20 submissions with first authors from 11 different countries. The reviewing procedure was carried out according to the general standards of OR Spectrum. However, we also placed large emphasis on seeing the specific challenges in food

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