Simulation game for improving fresh produce retailing

Simulation game for improving fresh produce retailing

Aggarwal, Deepak

Decisions by produce managers determine the quality and availability of fresh produce at retail stores. Quality is lowered when excess product is ordered and held for several days. Empty shelves result from insufficient quantities being ordered. The supply chain originates with produce grown on the farm followed by various links to the retailer. Produce retail managers need proper training tools to understand supply-chain system concepts and to develop ordering skills that enhance the probability of uninterrupted supply, minimum losses, and increased profits.

At the University of Georgia, a computer simulation game was developed as an entertaining approach for learning about fresh produce retailing. The player assumes the role of a retailer striving to minimize inventory without running out of an item. A Windows environment and Stella software (www.hps-inc.com) were used to model the supply chain based on system thinking and dynamics to simulate the flow of orders in the produce delivery chain.

The player selects a consumer demand from various deterministic and stochastic consumer demand options. Players are challenged by delays in produce delivery (two weeks) and perishability of the produce. Tension is caused from conflicting objectives of running out of produce and avoiding the penalty resulting from excess inventory. If required, the player can reduce his excess inventory by exercising his option of putting produce on sale. The bank balance shows the impact of the decisions made.

The simulation provides a hands-on, interactive tool to learn about complex concepts encountered in fresh produce chains. Players are surprised by the difficulties encountered for maintaining low inventories while maintaining an uninterrupted supply, even at the easiest level. The simulation game provides an interesting way to help students and managers understand the dynamics of fresh produce marketing systems. The outcome will be fresher produce without risk of empty shelves. To download the game, go to www.griffin .uga.edu/ageng/programs/programs.html.

Deepak Aggarwal, aggarwal@griffin .uga.edu; ASAE member Stanley E. Prussia, sprussia@griffin.uga.edu; Wojciech J. Florkowski, wflorko@gaes, University of Georgia; and Don Lynd, Don.Lynd@usda.gov, Agricultural Marketing Services

Copyright American Society of Agricultural Engineers May 2003

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