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A More Sustainable Supply Chain

  • Verónica H. Villena
  • Dennis A. Gioia

study on supply chain management practices

Increasingly, multinational corporations (MNCs) are pledging to procure the materials and services they need from companies committed to fair labor practices and environmental protections. But the reality is that their suppliers—especially those at low levels of the chain—often violate sustainability standards, exposing MNCs to serious financial and social risks.

To explore this problem—and identify solutions—the authors studied the supply networks of three MNCs deemed to be sustainability leaders. These companies engage in behaviors that are worth emulating; for example, they have established long-term sustainability goals, and they try to cascade good practices all the way down to lower-tier suppliers, using a combination of direct, indirect, industrywide, and global strategies. But all MNCs have more work to do to develop sustainable supply networks. They must emphasize social and environmental responsibility, along with economic considerations, at every level of the supply chain. They must give their procurement officers better training and incentives to pursue supplier sustainability. And to encourage widespread dissemination of best practices, they need more direct contact with the procurement people at their first-tier suppliers.

Companies tend to focus on their top-tier suppliers, but the real risks come lower down.

Idea in Brief

The problem.

Many multinational corporations have committed themselves to using suppliers with sustainable social and environmental practices, but suppliers—especially those low in the supply chain—often don’t comply with standards. This poses serious financial, social, and environmental risks.

The Research

The authors studied the supply networks of three MNCs considered to be sustainability leaders. They discovered a set of best practices—but also saw how difficult it can be to enforce standards.

The Solution

Awareness is key. Companies should consider adopting the best practices featured in this article, such as establishing long-term sustainability goals and including lower-tier suppliers in an overall sustainability strategy.

In recent years a rising number of multinational corporations have pledged to work only with suppliers that adhere to social and environmental standards. Typically, these MNCs expect their first-tier suppliers to comply with those standards, and they ask that those suppliers in turn ask for compliance from their suppliers—who ideally ask the same from their suppliers. And so on. The aim is to create a cascade of sustainable practices that flows smoothly throughout the supply chain, or, as we prefer to call it, the supply network.

  • VV Verónica H. Villena is an assistant professor of supply chain management at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University.
  • DG Dennis A. Gioia is the Robert and Judith Auritt Klein Professor of Management at the Smeal College of Business.

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Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN : 1477-7835

Article publication date: 19 August 2019

Issue publication date: 30 July 2020

Sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) is a relatively new sub-field of supply chain management (SCM). The performance of SSCM is based on the triple bottom line approach encompassing people-planet-profit, hence being defined not in only in social and environmental terms, but also the economic. The purpose of this paper is to develop an integrated study which uses antecedent-practices-performance principles in order to determine the drivers of SSCM practices, and the impact of these practices on sustainable supply chain performance. The importance of the study lies in the fact that the Indian Government is making significant efforts to boost the manufacturing sector, and sustainability is among the significant imperatives for Indian manufacturing to be competitive globally.


A conceptual model based on the antecedents-practices-performance principles was developed, and included six constructs identified from the literature: the drivers being the motivators of sustainability, lean management (LM) and supply management (SM), the practices were the environmental and social practices in the supply chain and, finally, the sustainable supply chain performance; eight hypotheses were conceived in the model development process. The survey instrument was conceptualised from an in-depth study of literature and was employed to conduct a survey of 211 operations and supply chain managers and functional heads from the Indian manufacturing industry. The scales were validated by employing the confirmatory factor analysis, followed by structural equation modelling to develop the structural relationships between the constructs using Amos 20.0.

The results of the SEM suggest that the antecedents, i.e. motivators, LM and SM, have a significant bearing on environmental and social practices in the SCM; these practices, in turn, also have a positive relationship with SSCM performance (except the relationship between LM and social practices in SCM) with acceptable goodness-of-fit measures. Thus out of the eight hypotheses, seven can be said to statistically significant.

Research limitations/implications

In addition to the motivators of sustainability, the study based on extant literature has considered LM and SM among the drivers of sustainability in SCM. The study has also identified that in earlier studies, the focus has been on environmental practices, and this integrated study has also included social practices in the supply chain.


This study suggests that sustainability performance may also be realised through lean and SM principles; an integrated perspective has been adopted with the consideration of both environmental and social practices. Further, the proposed model represents a novel integration of literature from diverse domains such as environmental management, business ethics and corporate social responsibility as well as performance management.

  • Lean management
  • Environmental practices
  • Sustainable supply chain management
  • Environmental and social practices
  • Social SSCM performance

Baliga, R. , Raut, R.D. and Kamble, S.S. (2020), "Sustainable supply chain management practices and performance: An integrated perspective from a developing economy", Management of Environmental Quality , Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 1147-1182.

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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Supply chain quality management practices and performance: An empirical study

  • Published: 13 January 2013
  • Volume 6 , pages 19–31, ( 2013 )

Cite this article

study on supply chain management practices

  • Jing Zeng 1 ,
  • Chi Anh Phan 2 &
  • Yoshiki Matsui 3  

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This study proposed a conceptual framework to study the relationships among three dimensions of supply chain quality management (SCQM) – in-house quality management practices (internal QM), interaction for quality with suppliers on the upstream side of supply chain (upstream QM), and interaction for quality with customers on the downstream side of supply chain (downstream QM) – and their impact on two types of quality performance (conformance quality, and customer satisfaction). Survey data were collected from 238 plants in three industries across eight countries and structural equation modeling was used to test this framework. The results indicate a dominant role of the internal QM in SCQM which has a positive impact on the other SCQM dimensions and two types of quality performance. Downstream QM is found to mediate the relationship between internal QM and customer satisfaction, while there is a lack of direct impact of upstream QM on either type of quality performance.

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The authors appreciate the financial support for this research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, No. 22330112.

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International Graduate School of Social Sciences, Yokohama National University, Yokohama, Japan

Department: Faculty of Business Administration, University of Economics and Business - Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Hanoi, Vietnam

Chi Anh Phan

Faculty of Business Administration, Yokohama National University, Yokohama, Japan

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Appendix: Question items of measurement scales

Factor loadings are given in parentheses following each item.

1.1 Top management leadership

All major department heads within the plant accept their responsibility for quality (0.721)

Plant management provides personal leadership for quality products and quality improvement (0.815)

The top priority in evaluating plant management is quality performance (0.522)

Our top management strongly encourages employee involvement in the production process (0.635)

Our plant management creates and communicates a vision focused on quality improvement (0.791)

Our plant management is personally involved in quality improvement projects (0.764)

1.2 Strategic Planning

Our plant has a formal strategic planning process, which results in a written mission, long-range goals and strategies for implementation (0.841)

This plant has a strategic plan, which is put in writing (0.849)

Plant management routinely reviews and updates a long-range strategic plan (0.789)

The plant has an informal strategy, which is not very well defined (0.689)

1.3 Quality Information

Charts showing defect rates are posted on the shop floor (0.758)

Charts showing schedule compliance are posted on the shop floor (0.754)

Charts plotting the frequency of machine breakdowns are posted on the shop floor (0.692)

Information on quality performance is readily available to employees (0.781)

Information on productivity is readily available to employees (0.726)

1.4 Process control

Processes in our plant are designed to be “foolproof” (0.581)

A large percent of the processes on the shop floor are currently under statistical quality control (0.815)

We make extensive use of statistical techniques to reduce variance in processes (0.825)

We use charts to determine whether our manufacturing processes are in control (0.734)

We monitor our processes using statistical process control (0.862)

1.5 Preventive maintenance

We upgrade inferior equipment, in order to prevent equipment problems (0.689)

In order to improve equipment performance, we sometimes redesign equipment (0.542)

We estimate the lifespan of our equipment, so that repair or replacement can be planned (0.748)

We use equipment diagnostic techniques to predict equipment lifespan (0.734)

We do not conduct technical analysis of major breakdowns (0.578)

1.6 Housekeeping

Our plant emphasizes putting all tools and fixtures in their place (0.698)

We take pride in keeping our plant neat and clean (0.811)

Our plant is kept clean at all times (0.856)

Employees often have trouble finding the tools they need (0.586)

Our plant is disorganized and dirty (0.791)

1.7 Small group problem solving

During problem solving sessions, we make an effort to get all team members’ opinions and ideas before making a decision (0.643)

Our plant forms teams to solve problems (0.805)

In the past three years, many problems have been solved through small group sessions (0.786)

Problem solving teams have helped improve manufacturing processes at this plant (0.775)

Employee teams are encouraged to try to solve their own problems, as much as possible (0.652)

We don’t use problem solving teams much, in this plant (0.710)

1.8 Task-related training for employees

Our plant employees receive training and development in workplace skills, on a regular basis (0.854)

Management at this plant believes that continual training and upgrading of employee skills is important (0.779)

Employees at this plant have skills that are above average, in this industry (removed)

Our employees regularly receive training to improve their skills (0.879)

Our employees are highly skilled, in this plant (0.608)

1.9 Employee suggestion

Management takes all product and process improvement suggestions seriously (0.809)

We are encouraged to make suggestions for improving performance at this plant (0.780)

Management tells us why our suggestions are implemented or not used (0.764)

Many useful suggestions are implemented at this plant (0.819)

My suggestions are never taken seriously around here (0.711)

1.10 Product design process

Direct labor employees are involved to a great extent before introducing new products or making product changes (0.635)

Manufacturing engineers are involved to a great extent before the introduction of new products (0.727)

There is little involvement of manufacturing and quality people in the early design or products, before they reach the plant (0.677)

We work in teams, with members from a variety of areas (marketing, manufacturing, etc.) to introduce new products (0.706)

We are not concerned about the number of parts in an end item (0.517)

Our engineers make an effort to simplify our product designs (0.529)

1.11 Upstream QM

We strive to establish long-term relationships with suppliers (0.649)

Our suppliers are actively involved in our new product development process (0.711)

Quality is our number one criterion in selecting suppliers (0.552)

We use mostly suppliers that we have certified (0.623)

We maintain close communication with suppliers about quality considerations and design changes (0.804)

We actively engage suppliers in our quality improvement efforts (0.779)

We would select a quality supplier over one with a lower price (removed)

1.12 Downstream QM

We frequently are in close contact with our customers (0.690)

Our customers seldom visit our plant (removed)

Our customers give us feedback on our quality and delivery performance (0.721)

Our customers are actively involved in our product design process (0.582)

We strive to be highly responsive to our customers’ needs (0.727)

We regularly survey our customers’ needs (0.706)

1.13 Quality performance

Please circle the number which indicates your opinion about how your plant compares to its competition in your industry in terms of quality of product conformance, on a global basis? 5 = Superior or better than average, 4 = better than average, 3 = Average or equal to the competition, 2 = Below average, 1 = Poor, low end of industry.

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Zeng, J., Phan, C.A. & Matsui, Y. Supply chain quality management practices and performance: An empirical study. Oper Manag Res 6 , 19–31 (2013).

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Received : 11 May 2012

Revised : 08 November 2012

Accepted : 18 December 2012

Published : 13 January 2013

Issue Date : June 2013


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On National Supply Chain Day, ‘Ship Happens’ To Make A Better World


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By Oyku Ilgar & Zoryana Zagorodnya, SAP

In a crazy world where robots are calling it quits from working too much, popular restaurants are getting sued over a chicken wing shortage, and your long-awaited gaming console is stuck on a ship in a super busy canal , who knows better than anyone that ship happens? Supply chain professionals.

Whether it's a bridge collapsing or a shipment going sideways in a canal, each crisis reminds us how important it is to have a supply chain that foresees or adapts to unexpected situations.

Luckily, there is a day to celebrate this intricate web that represents the culmination of a complex process involving design, manufacturing, and logistics that bringing you your favorite sauce , your morning pick me up, and that customized coffee mug from a friend.

On this National Supply Chain Day, dive into the top supply chain practices that enable supply chain leaders to stay ahead of the curve.

#1 Build visibility to enable agility

Since the term "supply chain management" hit the scene in 1982, it's been the glue holding the global market together during tough times and unexpected hiccups. Whether it's a bridge collapsing or a shipment going sideways in a canal, each crisis reminds us how important it is to have a supply chain that foresees or adapts to unexpected situations.

And the key that distinguishes the difference between thriving and just surviving is visibility.

Unlocking this full visibility is crucial for conquering the obstacles that come your way, both now and in the future. Only 6% of organizations have full visibility into their supply chain operations. By breaking down silos across both departmental and company boundaries, businesses can respond more quickly to changes or disruptions by creating a seamless flow of information that leads to smarter decision-making and more effective collaboration across the supply chains.

#2 Harness the power of AI and ML for strategic decision-making

AI has the potential to be a game-changer for supply chains. When integrated into operations, it becomes a powerful predictor of events and empowers businesses to make strategic decisions that lead to success.

It enables the creation and utilization of real-time and accurate data for supply chains and for professionals to provide visibility for making timely and intelligent decisions.

For example, anomaly detection and visual inspection are powerful tools for companies to stay ahead of the game. Businesses can swiftly pinpoint and address issues in real-time, reduce wastage, and improve overall production quality. By harnessing the power of data analytics and machine learning algorithms, they prevent potential equipment malfunctions before they occur, allowing for strategic scheduling of maintenance and safeguarding against costly breakdowns and production chokepoints.

In the Future of Supply Chain podcast , SAP’s Digital Supply Chain Global Marketing VP, Mindy Davis said: “Moving forward, what we'll see is more supply chain executives, CEOs in the related buying centers, having a seat at the table in terms of making business decisions for the company so that they can thrive and survive moving forward.”

#3 Embrace innovation for a sustainable future

Supply chains of today are more than just a series of connections – they are at the forefront of sustainability and environmental issues. Therefore, embracing innovation is imperative in shaping a sustainable future.

‘ ‘Supply chain and it's historically proven is the innovation engine for a better world,” said SAP’s Global Head of Digital Supply Chain, David Vallejo in the Future of Supply Chain podcast .

The push for greener practices and reducing carbon emissions has put a spotlight on the need for improvement in supply chains. With the demand for sustainability data on the rise, decision-makers are now scrutinizing their supply chains for innovative ways to incorporate more eco-friendly business practices.

The shift in consumer preferences has a domino effect on supply chains. A recent study revealed that a significant 73% of consumers now consider sustainability a major factor when making their purchases. To meet these changing demands, businesses need to start considering sustainable practices such as using greener fuels, cutting emissions, and enhancing working conditions for employees.

Vallejo further added, “At the end of the day, it drives the innovation for all of the industrial revolutions from the steam engines to mass production, and computerized systems. It moved the human being actually to become better and more responsible with the planet. It drove a globalized world of peace because we're reliant on each other.”

To learn more about enabling a risk-resilient and sustainable supply chain, please join us at the upcoming SAP Sapphire & ASUG Annual Conference , from June 3-5, 2024 in Orlando.

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Our Supply Chain Management (SCM) for Better Business Practices program is a unique offering designed in consultation with regional business leaders in manufacturing and SCM. It provides the foundations of effective SCM practices tailored to the needs of individual businesses, and leads to the development of a capstone project focused on improving specific organizational practices. We've worked closely with leaders in the SCM space to develop a program that adds value to your business.

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Inventory is often the largest asset on a company’s balance sheet, and poorly-managed inventory can drain your profits. Developing effective SCM practices can lower costs, boost quality, and increase customer satisfaction.

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Effective food waste management model for the sustainable agricultural food supply chain

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The extensive research examines the current state of agricultural food supply chains, with focus on waste management in Bandung Regency, Indonesia. The study reveals that a significant proportion of food within the agricultural supply chain goes to waste and discusses the various challenges and complexities involved in managing food waste. The research presents a conceptual model based on the ADKAR change management paradigm to promote waste utilization, increase awareness and change people's behaviors. The model emphasizes the importance of creating awareness, fostering desire, providing knowledge, implementing changes, and reinforcing and monitoring the transformation process. It also addresses the challenges, barriers, and drivers that influence waste utilization in the agricultural supply chain, highlighting the need for economic incentives and a shift in public awareness to drive meaningful change. Ultimately, this study serves as a comprehensive exploration of food waste management in Bandung Regency, shedding light on the complexities of the issue and offering a systematic approach to transition towards more sustainable waste utilization practices.

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The food industry comprises roughly 30% of the world’s total energy consumption, and when there is food loss and waste, the resources invested in food production go to waste 1 . Consequently, this contributes to the depletion of natural resources. Additionally, approximately 22% of greenhouse gas emissions, which have adverse environmental effects and contribute to global warming, originate from these food sectors 2 , 3 . To address this challenge, the United Nations has integrated the problem of food wastage into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically under Sustainable Development Goal 12, which focuses on promoting responsible consumption and production. Sustainable Development Goal 12 serves as a pivotal initiative to steer away from irresponsible resource utilization and mitigate harmful effects on the planet.

Food waste management can be categorized into two main approaches: preventing the generation of waste and handling waste that has already been produced 4 . The strategies for implementing food waste management vary depending on the underlying causes of each specific food waste scenario. This is because food loss and waste can manifest differently and require distinct treatments or solutions, occurring at various stages of the supply chain, ranging from production upstream to consumption downstream 5 . Efforts to address these issues can also be observed within different stages of the supply chain. For instance, at the production stage, optimization of production factors, such as infrastructure improvements 6 or the use of forecasting to prevent overproduction 7 is emphasized. In the distribution stage, enhancing efficiency in the distribution process can be achieved by shortening the supply chain 8 or by fostering coordination among supply chain participants 9 , 10 . Similarly, at the consumption stage, efforts often focus on enhancing supply chain processes to increase efficiency by utilizing waste to create more valuable product, ultimately reducing waste, which is commonly referred to as waste prevention.

Many nations worldwide have embraced the United Nations' objectives of minimizing food waste and promoting sustainability, demonstrating a collective dedication to addressing crucial environmental and social issues. The UN's Sustainable Development Goal 12 emphasizes the importance of curbing food waste across supply chains. This has spurred countries to take tangible steps and enforce policies aimed at reducing food waste 11 . For instance, the European Union (EU) has committed to ambitious targets outlined in its Circular Economy Action Plan to slash food waste by 2030. Strategies such as standardized date labeling, awareness campaigns, and support for surplus food donation align with the UN's sustainability agenda. Similarly, nations like South Korea have implemented innovative approaches, including pricing based on waste volume, mandatory food waste separation, and promoting the conversion of food waste into compost or biogas. These initiatives not only resonate with sustainability goals but also contribute to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, scholarly research available in publications such as "Resources, Conservation & Recycling" and "Waste Management" investigates the impact of diverse national policies on food waste reduction and sustainability. These studies analyze the effectiveness of specific interventions and offer insights into successful strategies adopted by different countries. By citing these examples and research outcomes, one can illustrate how nations are actively aligning themselves with the UN's aims of reducing food waste and promoting sustainability through a combination of policy frameworks and practical implementations.

In relation to that, food waste pre-treatment technologies have also been extensively developed to reduce the carbon loss as Carbon dioxide during storage/transport; improve the surface properties for easier access to microbes; (reduce the accumulation of volatile fatty acids at early stages or during storage and transport; and alter biological properties to support microbiomes from anaerobic digestion / dark fermentation 15 , 16 . This pre-treatment can be carried out either through physical and mechanical pre-treatments, Thermal pre-treatment, Chemical pre-treatment and Biological pre-treatment 16 . Nevertheless, landfilling of food waste is a very common disposal method in developing countries e.g., India, China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc. It is due to their national budget for waste management. Due to insufficient funding for recycling, some developing nations have attempted to introduce a system for managing food waste in their legislative frameworks. However, budgeting remains a significant problem in developing countries for handling waste 17 , 18 .

Indonesia faces significant food waste issue, with food waste accounting for 28.6% of total waste. To address this problem, the government has outlined plans in its 2020–2024 National Mid-Term Development Plan to reduce waste by up to 80% 19 , including food waste. The Ministry of Agriculture’s Strategic Plan for 2020–2024 and The Indonesia Food Sustainable System 2019 further emphasize efforts to combat food waste by following decentralized approach, giving local goverments the authority to manage related issue. This approach encourages collaboration among all stakeholders, both nationally and locally 20 . Notably, the Bandung Regency government is one local authority actively addressing food waste. 20 2019 To address this issue, Development Agency at Sub National Level is actively working on establishing a more sustainable food supply chain for the implementation in Bandung Regency. In the context of advancing food security in Bandung Regency, the government’s strategy consists of five core concepts, encompassing food supply chain efficiency, connectivity, price regulation, logistics cost reduction, enhanced production capacity, and sustainability. This sustainability aspect also encompasses initiatives related to waste processing, as outlined by Bappeda Kabupaten Bandung 21 . The latest attempt in developing a sustainable supply chain in Bandung Regency is the establishment of a food hub is an endeavor by the government to build a more efficient supply chain, which is described as an aggregator capable of integrating all parties involved, acting as a logistical service provider, marketing, agricultural product added-value development, and information hub 22 .

23 When considering the five key concepts for enhancing food security in Bandung Regency, the establishment of the food hub addresses four of these concepts, primarily focusing on waste prevention. However, there is a notable absence of detailed research or government reports that specifically address the fifth concept, which pertains to sustainability and effective management of existing food waste. As previously mentioned, one of the primary contributors to the increasing waste issue is the lack of proper handling of generated waste. Furthermore, the linear economy approach, which categorizes all unused products as waste, exacerbates the problem. Additionally, the growing population is a factor leading to increased waste, while the landfill capacity remains limited. Hence, while waste prevention is crucial, there's still a pressing need for well-planned food waste management, particularly in terms of waste utilization because waste can be utilized wisely to make it more valuable 23 . To optimize waste utilization, it is imperative to develop a comprehensive waste management strategy to avoid the oversight of waste reduction 24 . This strategic planning encompasses the crucial step of waste identification, involving the collection of data regarding the types of waste, the locations where waste is generated, and potential methods for waste utilization 19 , 24 . Understanding the composition and sources of waste will greatly facilitate effective waste management 25 .

Currently, there is no available data or research on food waste management in the Bandung Regency's Food Supply Chain. This study aims to address this gap by identifying food waste in the region's supply chain, with the goal of promoting the development of a more sustainable food supply chain. Therefore, this study aims to develop effective food waste management that can be implemented in Bandung Regency’s food supply chain. In addition, study by Nattassha et al. 26 emphasized the importance of integrating waste management actors, including scavengers, sorters, and processors, with resource suppliers and producers to facilitate the reuse of treated waste. This study collected data from these stakeholders to enhance understanding and proposed a conceptual model to improve waste management knowledge among producers. It advocates for a comprehensive approach involving all actors in food waste management, which hasn't been previously explored.

The real-world situation of food supply chain in Bandung Regency

The supply chain at Bandung Regency involves three primary participants: farmers, intermediaries, and customers. Each of these actors assumes distinct roles and responsibilities within the agricultural product supply chain. Farmers are individuals responsible for producing agricultural products. Intermediaries are entities that aid farmers in the distribution of their products to the primary consumers. These intermediary participants can be categorized into two groups: wholesalers and retailers. Wholesalers are entities that acquire these products from farmers, either directly or indirectly, and subsequently sell them to purchasers in bulk quantities. Meanwhile, retailers are parties who directly sell products to the end consumers 27 .

There are two categories of wholesalers: merchant wholesalers and agents or brokers. The distinction between a merchant wholesaler and an agent or broker is found in how they participate in the supply chain process of distributing goods. Agents or brokers primarily facilitate connections between farmers and wholesalers who have direct market or customer access. They do this through communication and negotiation without physically handling the agricultural products, a role often referred to as being intermediaries or middle-men 27 , 28 . On the other hand, supermarkets are larger, modern retailers with a self-service concept, aiming to fulfill consumers' complete grocery and household product needs 27 . Online retailers conduct transactions without the need for physical interaction between sellers and buyers, operating through online platforms.

Lastly, customers are individuals or entities that use or consume the agricultural products, either for personal use or for further distribution as different products. In the agricultural product supply chain within Bandung Regency, customers can be categorized into two groups based on how they utilize the purchased items: the consumer market and the business market 27 . Consumer markets involve individuals who use products for personal consumption, while business markets consist of customers who purchase and distribute products in bulk, often to other businesses or consumers after processing.

Figure  1 illustrates the movement of agricultural products, particularly vegetables and fruits, within the agricultural supply chain of Bandung Regency. The figure depicts that agricultural products have their source in farmers or crop producers and ultimately reach consumers, encompassing both business clients and individual end users.

figure 1

Bandung Regency’s Current Agricultural Supply Chain.

Current handling of unused product during the supply chain process

While it may seem that agricultural products follow a path from farmers as producers to eventual consumers, not all of these products find buyers and are sold. According to the data gathered, a significant portion of unsold products ends up as waste. Interestingly, not all of these products are in poor condition, and some still possess quality suitable for sale in the market. These unsold products can be categorized into three broad groups based on their condition, as outlined in the matrix proposed by Teigiserova, Hamelin, and Thomsen 29 : surplus food, food waste, and food loss.

To reduce food surplus, the "reduce" principle can be applied through measures like careful production planning or the utilization of advanced storage technologies, such as cold chain management. As per the interviews, certain actors, particularly those in financially stable positions like supermarkets, exporters, and restaurants, have successfully implemented waste reduction efforts, and the outcomes have indeed assisted them in waste reduction. However, some other actors still face challenges in implementing these measures, primarily due to limited financial resources (additional obstacles can be found in Fig.  2 , the Rich picture).

figure 2

Rich Picture of Bandung Regency’s Agriculture Supply Chain and Current Waste Management Practice.

The "reuse" principle, particularly for surplus edible products, is crucial alongside prevention measures. Common methods include distributing to food collection organizations, providing to local communities for free, selling at reduced prices, and processing into other food items. Selling at lower prices is the most commonly adopted. Partially edible products are often reused, while true food waste can be repurposed through recycling for animal feed, composting, insect rearing, and material recovery. However, recycling efforts are limited due to a lack of knowledge, leading some to dispose of unused products. Another option is energy generation through anaerobic digestion, but it's currently underutilized.

Meanwhile, according to government officials interviewed, it was emphasized that independent waste management efforts by the community were essential. This was seen as necessary because it would be impossible for the government alone to handle all waste-related responsibilities. A key limitation from the government's perspective is the inadequate waste management infrastructure in Bandung Regency.

As stated in the 2018 performance report of the Bandung Regency Environmental Service, with only 100 waste transport vehicles, the government was able to collect and transport a mere 16.32% of the waste, a figure that decreased further in 2019 to 12.6% due to a rise in waste generation. Consequently, the Bandung Regency government encourages residents to take a more active role in waste management.

The government has initiated various efforts to enable citizens to participate in waste reduction. However, in practice, people have been slow to embrace waste management practices. Even with organizational support, only 40% of the population actively engages in these programs, as per representatives from non-governmental organization s during telephone interviews on June 16, 2022. Additionally, when not continuously supported, people tend to discontinue their participation. Meanwhile, the organizations themselves face resource limitations, preventing them from providing ongoing assistance and monitoring to residents. The challenges faced by various actors and their competing priorities often lead them to opt for waste disposal rather than utilization. Figure  2 , the Rich Picture, illustrates the complex issues within the agricultural product supply chain in Bandung Regency and waste management.

Root definition

The Rich Picture diagram illustrates that actors have not fully embraced waste utilization. Despite the obstacles and concerns expressed in interviews, the main challenge lies in changing people's ingrained habit of disposing of anything they consider useless. Society is accustomed to discarding items, while the government aims to encourage people not to waste potentially useful items and find ways to repurpose them. This is a significant hurdle as these habits have persisted for a long time and are deeply ingrained. When asked why they don't utilize waste, some individuals couldn't provide specific reasons and considered discarding waste as an automatic and unquestioned habit.

However, other barriers contribute to people's reluctance to utilize waste. Interviews reveal that a common obstacle is the lack of public awareness about the significance and urgency of waste issues, as well as limited knowledge about waste management. Many interviewees indicated that they hadn't experienced any negative consequences from waste accumulation, and some considered littering as a normal practice driven by their circumstances.

The issue of low public awareness of waste problems is also acknowledged by government agencies and non-governmental organization’s working in the solid waste sector. The abandonment and limited success of various waste reduction programs and facilities can be attributed to this problem. As mentioned earlier, even when the government and non-governmental organization’s assisted communities in implementing waste reduction programs, these initiatives were not adopted by 100% of the residents, and often not even by half of them. This drop-off in participation occurred particularly when residents were no longer under active supervision, despite initially appearing proficient in executing the programs during mentoring periods. Consequently, the model areas or waste processing assistance efforts were not sustained, and residents reverted to their old habits. (Non-governmental organization Representatives, Telephone Interview, 16/06/2022).

Waste can be used wisely to make it more valuable. Certain agricultural products such as fruit remnants can be repurposed into other valuable products by recovering their bioactive compounds through valorization techniques 23 . Some individuals have attempted to reuse waste by processing it into fertilizer, selling it in the market, or transforming it into other products. However, the outcomes often did not justify the effort expended, leading them to revert to discarding waste. The comparison between results and effort involved revolves around the processed products' energy, time, and additional costs required for waste processing. For example, energy generated from waste processing in a biodigester was only sufficient for 1-2 nearby houses or a community meeting hall, indicating limited impact.

The economic value of waste utilization presents as second obstacle. While some individuals are willing to utilize waste for economic benefits, many view its main advantage as environmental. This perspective is especially common among economically disadvantaged individuals. Market challenges, such as distance from potential users and a lack of awareness about product benefits, also hinder waste utilization. Additionally, farmers may continue to harvest even in oversupplied markets, leading to increased costs and waste. This economic focus discourages waste processing.

The third obstacle is limited resources, such as time, funding, manpower, and technology. Time constraints are the major issue, as supply chain actors prioritize their core income-generating activities. Financials limitations, especially among unstable actors, hinder investments in technologies like cold storage or food processing tools.

Supermarkets, in particular, face space limitations for waste processing, and these constraints can lead to discontinuation of waste utilization programs in favor of waste disposal through cleaning services. Overall, changing waste management habits is challenging when immediate waste disposal is the norm, and public awareness of the government's goals is lacking. Perceived benefits, distribution challenges, and resource limitations further deter habit changes. A CATWOE analysis, aimed at shifting waste handling habits towards waste utilization, is detailed in the table below.

The Table 1 CATWOE analysis shows how the ideal system is to produce an effective transition to the habit of utilizing waste.In the CATWOE framework, the first element is the "customer," which, in this context, refers to society at large within the agricultural supply chain. The second element, the "actor," encompasses all stakeholders committed to changing food waste disposal habits. Collaboration is essential to effectively bring about this change. The third element, "transformation," aims to change habits while considering the factors driving and inhibiting change. The fourth element, "Weltanschauung," emphasizes that this change system should align with individuals' fundamental needs for achieving and sustaining change. The "owner," as the fifth element, is the government, which not only acknowledges the food waste issue but also holds the authority to influence and regulate societal behavior. The final element, the "environment," encompasses the entire agricultural product supply chain, extending beyond Bandung Regency.

Conceptual model

The CATWOE analysis indicates a need for a mechanism to enhance how people utilize waste. To address this, a conceptual model was developed in this study, utilizing the ADKAR change management paradigm, which was introduced by Prosci in 1998. The selection of the ADKAR model was based on its appropriateness for implementing changes that require acceptance from those undergoing the change, in this case, society. This choice was made considering the scope and impact of the change. Therefore, Fig.  2 , titled "The Conceptual Model," illustrates the system for altering people's behaviors to maximize waste utilization.

According to the ADKAR model in Figure 3 , the first step in facilitating change is to create awareness among those involved. This awareness should encompass an understanding of the reasons for change and the potential risks if change is not implemented. In the context of promoting waste utilization 30 , it's crucial for change agents to ensure that people comprehend the issues surrounding food waste and how utilizing waste can address these concerns. Without this understanding, people may be hesitant to change their habits. The subsequent step in driving change is to stimulate people's desire to use waste, as this motivation is what can encourage active participation in the change process. In the context of waste utilization, change agents must grasp the community's desires and needs regarding waste use to motivate them for necessary changes. However, the lack of perceived benefits from changing routines has hindered supply chain actors' embrace of waste utilization. Interviews with those who have used waste revealed a positive impact, especially on environmental aspects, but this alone wasn't enough motivation to continue, except for individuals in supermarkets who viewed environmental concerns as part of their corporate social responsibility. Their primary focus, though, was on economic aspects. In fact, most respondents indicated that they would be more interested in waste utilization if processed waste products could provide economic value by increasing income or reducing expenses.

figure 3

The Conceptual Model.

The next step involves changing people's behavior by providing them with information on effective waste utilization. This goes beyond theoretical knowledge and includes practical understanding of the new tasks and responsibilities associated with these changes, along with training. Four key aspects must be addressed when influencing change knowledge: existing community knowledge, the community's learning capacity, available resources for education and training, and access to information. It's crucial to consider these factors for effective knowledge delivery. Change agents should tailor their approach to the specific audience they are addressing.

Once the community has the necessary knowledge, the next phase is to implement waste utilization. This phase includes developing strategies and action plans and evaluating the effectiveness of implementation. Putting knowledge into practice is vital because theory and practice can differ. To sustain these changes, reinforcement is essential. This can be achieved through incentives, recognition, or even government policies mandating the changes. Finally, change agents must continuously monitor and control their efforts to alter waste utilization habits, understanding that forming new habits takes time, especially in large-scale changes. Monitoring and control ensure alignment with government objectives and allow for necessary adjustments.

The ADKAR model outlined in the context of waste utilization provides a structured approach to driving change by focusing on awareness, desire, knowledge, action, and reinforcement. The applicability and effectiveness of the model in the context of waste utilization depend on its successful adaptation to local contexts, effective stakeholder engagement, practical knowledge delivery, and ongoing monitoring and reinforcement efforts. When implemented thoughtfully and comprehensively, the model can serve as a valuable framework for driving sustainable change in waste management practices.

Based on the issues outlined in the root definition and conceptual model, it's evident that those driving change must initially focus on raising awareness and fostering a desire for the intended change. However, it's crucial to emphasize that planning these efforts should not be divorced from setting specific change objectives in advance to ensure that these endeavors stay on course. The first approach to achieve this is through expansion.

Factors such as economic conditions, income levels, and the cost associated with waste disposal services significantly affect individuals' decisions about managing their waste 31 . In addition, sociocultural beliefs, societal norms, and perceptions regarding waste disposal practices also play a crucial role in waste management 32 . Moreover, individual behaviors, preferences, and levels of environmental consciousness significantly influence how people dispose of their garbage 33 .

Therefore, expansion is needed to raise awareness and shift people's perspectives about waste. The intention is to strengthen their knowledge in waste management and its impact. According to research by McCoy 34 , the role of expansion is to alter how people perceive and manage something, in this case, food waste. Collaborating with broad array of experts and stakeholders offers an opportunity to enhance education and understanding of food waste, serving as a foundation for instigating habitual changes towards its utilization.

Behavioral science research, exemplified by Cialdini's on social influence and persuasion underscores the significance of comprehending human behavior to shape attitudes and encourage the adoption of new practices. Employing principles from behavioral psychology can assist in devising interventions that advocate for the adoption of effective waste disposal methods 35 . Therefore, involving the community in decision-making processes concerning waste management interventions instills a sense of ownership. Studies like those conducted by Lockwood et al. highlight the importance of community engagement and participatory approaches in waste management initiatives, resulting in enhanced acceptance and sustainability of implemented measures 36

Efficient communication and educational campaigns are instrumental in gaining public support and comprehension. Research by Maibach et al. emphasizes the significance of targeted communication strategies in facilitating behavioral changes related to environmental issues, including waste management 37 .

Therefore, utilizing social media as a educational campaign tool to raise public awareness is one viable method to create more efficient communication. Given the continuous growth in the number of internet and social media users in Indonesia, social media can be an effective medium for disseminating information to enhance public awareness. According to research by Jenkins et al. 38 , social media has demonstrated a positive impact on raising awareness and contributing to the reduction of food waste, particularly at the consumer level. In addition to the awareness issue, it was previously noted that another challenge is the perceived lack of benefits by society. Nattassha et al.'s 26 research highlights the critical role of incentives in encouraging cassava supply chain growers to adopt a circular economy, thereby motivating them to remain engaged in the supply chain. Presently, the benefits expected by the community are linked to the economic value of waste disposal. The establishment of a circular economy represents one strategy to align people's desires with waste utilization.

Further, intelligence and digitalization play a crucial role in shaping an effective waste management model. These approaches can offer several advantages, such as real-time monitoring of waste collection, optimizing routes for garbage trucks, and improving recycling processes through data analysis 39 . Studies published in journals like "Separation and Purification Technology" often explore the realm of intelligent waste management systems. These systems utilize digital technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), and data analytics to streamline waste collection, recycling procedures, and resource allocation. For instance, Babaei and Basu 40 delve into the implementation of IoT and AI in waste management in their work 40 .

Additionally, research by Tao et al. 41 utilize 20-kHz ultrasound, this study extracted phenolics from Chinese chokeberry using distilled water and 50% aqueous ethanol, revealing that adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system (ANFIS) successfully correlated extraction parameters with high total phenolic yield, while identifying the effectiveness of different solvents for extracting specific phenolic compound.

Technological progress holds a significant role in waste management. Progress in waste-to-energy technologies, recycling processes, and intelligent waste management systems profoundly affects the effectiveness and sustainability of waste management practices 42 . Therefore, continuous evolution of policies is essential, taking into account technological advancements, socio-economic changes, and environmental considerations. This flexibility and adaptability within policies are crucial to ensure the effectiveness and relevance of waste management strategies amidst changing circumstances and emerging challenges.

In conclusion, effective communication and educational campaigns, including the use of social media, can enhance public awareness and understanding of waste management. Furthermore, implementing a circular economy and integrating intelligence and digitalization into waste management systems are crucial for improving their effectiveness and sustainability. However, the study has limitations. It focuses solely on Bandung Regency, potentially limiting the generalizability of its findings. Additionally, constraints related to data availability and resources, as well as the complexity of interdisciplinary approaches to waste management, may impact the research. Future studies should address these limitations by conducting comparative studies across different regions to identify variations in waste management practices. Longitudinal studies are also needed to assess the long-term effectiveness of interventions and monitor changes in waste management behaviors over time. Additionally, exploring innovative approaches to enhance community engagement and participation in waste management initiatives is essential.

The research method employed in this study is Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), which was developed by Checkland in 1989. The choice of this methodology is based on its suitability for addressing the research questions, considering the study's context and subject matter. This research aims to identify the current management of food waste and the potential for food waste utilization in Bandung Regency, with a focus on waste flow within the agricultural supply chain. The study involves gathering insights from various stakeholders.

Given that this research utilizes the Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) approach, the research process follows the steps outlined by Checkland. Checkland's SSM involves a seven-stage model, and Figure 4 illustrates how the research is conducted.

figure 4

Seven Stages of SSM.

Primary data is acquired through a primary semi-structured interview conducted via purposive sampling. Interviews were carried out with a total of 27 respondents who had connections to and involvement in the agricultural product waste supply chain in Bandung Regency. These respondents represented various roles, including farmers, domestic and overseas merchant wholesalers (exporters), traditional market wholesalers, retail sellers in traditional markets, supermarket representatives, restaurant managers, small and medium-sized food business owners, cattle fattening workers, chicken farmers, private agricultural extension agents, farmer cooperation representatives, public relations personnel from non-profit organizations focused on waste, government representatives, and end-users. Secondary data is sourced from existing literature.

Data availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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These authors contributed equally: Yuanita Handayati and Chryshella Widyanata.

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School of Business and Management (SBM), Bandung Institute of Technology, Bandung, 40116, Indonesia

Yuanita Handayati & Chryshella Widyanata

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Handayati, Y., Widyanata, C. Effective food waste management model for the sustainable agricultural food supply chain. Sci Rep 14 , 10290 (2024).

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Original research article, assessment of veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse management practices and its associated challenges in four selected zones and bahir dar city of amhara regional state, ethiopia.

study on supply chain management practices

  • 1 Department of Veterinary Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Management, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia
  • 2 Department of Logistic and Supply Chain Management, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia
  • 3 Department of Social and Administrative Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethio
  • 4 Department of Veterinary Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia

A pharmaceutical warehouse is part of the pharmaceutical supply chain and is essential to maintaining the quality and efficacy of veterinary pharmaceuticals for successful animal health service delivery. However, poor storage conditions, improper handling, and inappropriate use and disposal constitute challenges for veterinary supplies in animal health services. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the existing practices and challenges in warehouse management in government veterinary clinics and private veterinary drug wholesalers in Ethiopia. A cross-sectional study was conducted on 37 veterinary health facilities in four selected zones (south Gondar, west Gondar, central Gondar, and west Gojam zones) and Bahir Dar administrative city. Zones were selected using a simple random sampling technique. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire, pre-defined and tested observational checklists, and semi-structured interview guides. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the quantitative data, while qualitative data was analyzed using a thematic approach. The study revealed the presence of poor stock management practices, such as the absence of standard operating procedures for warehouse activities in ~59.5% of facilities surveyed. In none of the surveyed facilities, bin cards and system software utilization were satisfactory. The absence of disposal guidelines was detected in 83.8% of the facilities, and the practice of timely disposal of expired drugs was not satisfactory. Compared to the government veterinary clinics, private veterinary drug wholesalers had better storage practices (86.25%) following theoretical recommendations. The storage conditions in government clinics were rated poor at 48.3% (>80%, which is the limit to the acceptable rate for good storage conditions). The challenges of inadequate infrastructure, a lack of qualified staff, problems with the availability and affordability of pharmaceutical products, insufficient regulatory practice, and budget constraints were identified. A holistic approach involving related stakeholders should be followed to improve the existing challenges and the sector's efficiency.


In Africa, livestock plays a significant role in economic growth, and Ethiopia has the biggest livestock population on the continent ( 1 ). However, Ethiopia's livestock productivity is lower compared to the country's livestock population ( 2 , 3 ). The improper handling, inappropriate use, and poor disposal practices of veterinary pharmaceuticals are global issues that reduce livestock productivity and affect successful animal health services ( 4 – 7 ).

Veterinary pharmaceuticals are the foundation of animal disease diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and control, while the quality, safety, and efficacy of pharmaceuticals in a supply chain significantly depend on warehouse management ( 8 , 9 ). A warehouse is a functional and organizational structure designed for storing tangible products (stocks) in a dedicated area using proven technology, managed by a group of people, and furnished with the necessary technical tools. Warehouse management (WM) is part of a logistics system that comprises accepting, storing, issuing, recording, and tracking information flow throughout the process. In pharmaceutical supply chain management (SCM), strategic warehouse operations are the foundation of a service's success ( 10 , 11 ).

Good veterinary supplies management practices play a pivotal role in maintaining the quality of drugs and ensuring the delivery of successful animal health services. They also reduce non-conformities, promote efficient labor allocation, and reduce average operation time. Studies indicate that effective WM practices can save 15.7% of space across manufacturing and healthcare organizations and account for 2% to 5% of the cost of sales ( 12 , 13 ). On the other hand, improper handling of veterinary drugs impedes the quality of animal health services; it is also a leading cause of the risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans ( 14 ).

According to the European Medicine Association (EMA), to achieve good veterinary drug management practices and reduce the wastage of veterinary supplies (VS) at any veterinary service delivery point (SDP), proper installation of warehouse and storage facilities, trained and qualified professionals, and standardized written manuals, policies, and guidelines are necessary components that must be fulfilled ( 15 ). In high-income nations, systems have been established to evaluate and track the quality of veterinary pharmaceuticals (VPs) available in the market and at SDP. However, most low- and middle-income nations find it difficult to monitor the use of veterinary drugs in livestock ( 4 ).

In most African countries, the poor advancement of animal healthcare is due to the influx of poor-quality drugs and complex drug distribution chains that involve many actors (both formal and informal) ( 4 , 16 , 17 ). According to a study conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa, the weak distribution of infrastructure and services and the multiplication of non-professional actors in the veterinary drug chains are the major constraints for farmers to access good-quality drugs ( 18 ). Another study conducted in Dares Salaam, Tanzania, revealed that poor record-keeping and the lack of guidelines on the appropriate disposal of veterinary medicines are the factors that affect drug handling and management ( 19 ). A study conducted in Nigeria showed that Africa had lost USD 4 billion due to preventable livestock diseases ( 4 ).

Until the French Veterinary Mission started offering modern veterinary services in 1908, Ethiopia's veterinary healthcare services were managed traditionally ( 20 ). However, currently, the government provides considerable veterinary healthcare services through clinics in every district and kebele (Ethiopia's fourth administrative level, following regions, zones, and districts). Veterinary clinics, designated to deliver veterinary healthcare services, veterinary pharmacy importers, wholesalers, and retail outlets, the majority of which are franchise veterinary drug businesses, professionally distribute veterinary pharmaceuticals throughout the country ( 2 ). Due to the interdependence and dependence among the activities in the veterinary pharmaceutical supply chain, a failure in one activity will have a detrimental impact on subsequent actions. For the provision of high-quality, sustainable animal health services, various service delivery institutions, such as veterinary drug importers, wholesalers, retailers, governmental animal health service providers (AHSP), animal health administrators, research and educational institutions, policymakers, legal affairs, and livestock owners, must all work together in the veterinary drug supply chain ( 20 – 22 ).

Literature indicates that the livestock sub-sector in Ethiopia is vulnerable to several veterinary pharmaceutical supply chain issues, including poor drug handling during purchase, irrational use of drugs, illegal marketing, poor-quality medicines, a lack of waste management practices, low rates of adherence to rules and policies, a lack of qualified public and private animal health services, and a lack of qualified and trained staff ( 5 , 6 , 21 , 23 , 24 ). Another study conducted in Ethiopia on the quality of veterinary drugs during post-marketing surveillance, re-registration, consignment checking, and pre-registration indicated that 8.2% of the examined veterinary medication samples were labeled as being of poor quality, and ~12 (1.3%) of the examined products had flaws in their appearance, packaging, or labeling ( 25 ). Veterinary drugs and biological products produced, imported, distributed, and used in the country are not effectively regulated and managed in terms of quality, safety, and efficacy ( 2 , 22 ).

Currently, due to the prevalence of animal diseases, VPs are widely used. However, in Africa, including Ethiopia, the VP sector, especially veterinary supplies warehouse management practices, is a neglected research area, except for some fragmented studies that show the presence of poor handling of veterinary drugs ( 4 , 5 , 24 ). Besides, the researcher had the opportunity to visit a few veterinary drug warehouses and noticed and understood that warehouse management practices lacked attention even though the products were expensive, unique, and dealt with animal life.

Implementing good veterinary supplies, particularly through WM, in the context of veterinary health facilities served as inspiration for addressing such types of issues and maintaining the overall veterinary pharmaceutical supply chain operations, which are crucial to improving veterinary healthcare services through the provision of quality VPs. Hence, the current study was conducted to assess the veterinary supplies warehouse management practices in relation to stock management, storage conditions, warehousing activities (receiving, storing, and issuing), human and material resources, and identifying the challenges encountered linked to the fundamental veterinary supplies warehouse operations at government district veterinary clinics and private veterinary drug wholesalers in four selected zones and Bahir Dar city of the Amhara region, Ethiopia.

Methods and materials

Study area and period.

The study was conducted in four selected zones and Bahir Dar administrative city in the Amhara region of Ethiopia from April 1, 2022, to January 15, 2023. The Amhara region is located in the north-western part of Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. The study area covers the northern and western parts of the region. Administratively, there are 12 zones in the Amhara region. For this study, Bahir Dar City (the capital city of the Amhara region) was purposefully selected because most veterinary drug wholesalers are located in Bahir Dar City. The four zones, namely south Gondar, central Gondar, west Gondar, and west Gojam zones were selected based on the inclusion criteria of political stability and security concern at the time of data collection and veterinary health services coverage. In the study area, according to the 2022 report acquired from the Veterinary Drug and Feed Administration Control Authority (VDFACA) of the Amhara regional branch and the Amhara regional state livestock and fisheries resource development office, there are 66 facilities (14 private veterinary drug wholesalers and 52 government district veterinary clinics) serving to care for over 23 million livestock. Most veterinary drug wholesalers are found in the region's capital city, while others are scattered at the zonal level, and government veterinary clinics are at the district/woreda level.

Study design

A facility-based descriptive cross-sectional study design complemented by qualitative research approaches was conducted. The study mostly used a quantitative approach to produce numerical data, whereas a qualitative approach was used to explore the challenges faced in the catchment area and strengthen the quantitative data. The survey was done at veterinary health facilities using self-administered questionnaires, observational checklists, and face-to-face interviews with key informants (KI).

Source and study population

Source population.

The source population included all government veterinary clinics, all private veterinary drug wholesalers, all veterinary health professionals working with veterinary drugs in the warehouse and storage areas, and those who had a position related to pharmaceutical supply chain management in the four specified zones and Bahir Dar administrative city of Amhara regional state, Ethiopia.

Study population

Selected district government veterinary clinics and private veterinary drug wholesalers in the selected four zones and Bahir Dar city of the Amhara region were assessed to collect the necessary data. The government district veterinary clinic's veterinary drug and input supply officer, veterinary drug store personnel and veterinary drug dispenser, veterinary drug wholesale owners, wholesaler technical managers, wholesaler assistant storekeepers, district livestock and fishery resource development heads, and animal health department coordinators were all contacted and invited to participate in this study.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

District veterinary clinics, veterinary drug wholesalers, and employees working with veterinary drugs and had positions related to veterinary drug handling and management practices for at least the last 6 months during data collection participated in the study. Zones that suffered from political instability and security concerns during data collection were excluded. Government animal health posts located at the kebele level, private veterinary clinics, and private retail outlets were also excluded as they did not have a permit to hold veterinary pharmaceutical stock.

Sample size determination and sampling techniques

Sample size determination.

The formula developed by Cochran in 1963 for calculating sample sizes when the proportion is the parameter of research was applied, and a 90% confidence level with a 10% margin of error was used. Using this formula and assuming a 10% non-respondent rate, 37 health facilities were selected as a study sample from a refined population of 66 facilities (government district veterinary clinics and private veterinary drug wholesalers) in the study area. The quantitative and qualitative data were obtained from 29 government district veterinary clinics and eight private veterinary drug wholesalers ( Supplementary material 1 ).

The general formula was calculated using Equation (1) :

Where, no is the sample size required, Z is the Z value (1.64 for a 90% confidence level), and p is the estimated prevalence of the indicator. The product of [p] and [q] is maximized when p = 0.5. Therefore, when the prevalence is unknown, 0.5 should be used, and e2 = the 10% margin of error used in estimating the prevalence, e2 = 0.1. However, the sample size (n 0 ) was adjusted to n: This adjustment can substantially reduce the necessary sample size for small populations and is also called the population correction factor ( 26 ) ( Equation 2 ):

Where, n = the adjusted new sample size; N = the population size; n 0 = the sample size obtained from the general formula.

n = 33.5–34 facilities, with a 10% non-response rate, 37 facilities.

Accordingly, 37 veterinary health facilities were selected proportionally from the four zones and Bahir Dar city, and 75 participants working in the selected veterinary health facilities participated. The selection was purposefully made based on their direct involvement in pharmaceutical warehouse management activities and their position in the facilities. Practically, during data collection, some facilities did not have veterinary drug and input supply employees, others did not have drug store and control employees, and a few others did not have a drug dispenser. Due to the small size of the target population in the selected facilities, all 75 professionals participated in this study. Key informants for qualitative data collection were determined based on the viewpoints of different researchers and the principle of data saturation ( 27 , 28 ). The KIs were selected from the 37 veterinary health facilities. Their positions, being decision-makers and having information on the issues of veterinary supply warehouse management practices, were considered during the selection of KIs. Accordingly, the districts' livestock and fishery resource development heads, animal health department coordinators, private veterinary drug wholesale owners, and veterinary drug wholesaler technical managers working from the selected facilities were invited.

Sampling techniques

In the Amhara region, there are 12 zones, so it was difficult to address all district veterinary clinics and private veterinary drug wholesalers in these zones. Therefore, for general representation of the study site, the four zones and Bahir Dar administrative city were selected based on the inclusion criteria and because of their high density of veterinary health facilities and service coverage. Veterinary clinics and drug wholesalers in the four zones and Bahir Dar city were completely enumerated and listed. Then, the health facilities were stratified according to the types of facilities, such as government district veterinary clinics or private veterinary drug wholesalers. Finally, the number of veterinary health facilities included in the sample from each stratum was determined using a proportional size allocation technique ( 28 ). The study was conducted at 37 facilities, of which 29 were government district veterinary clinics, and eight were private veterinary drug wholesalers, selected by a simple random sampling technique ( Supplementary material 2 ).

Regarding study participants, district veterinary clinic drug store personnel, district veterinary clinic drug store manager, district veterinary drug input and supply officer (from the selected government district veterinary clinics), wholesaler veterinary drug assistant storekeeper, and wholesaler veterinary drug technical manager (from private veterinary health facilities) were invited to fill out the self-administered structured questionnaire. For key informants, the district livestock and fishery resource development heads, animal health department coordinators, private veterinary drug wholesale owners, and veterinary drug wholesaler technical managers (from the selected private veterinary health facilities) were invited to participate in the interview. The selection of the KI was based on their position as decision-makers and because they are familiar with pharmaceutical supply chain information and related activities. Moreover, they also have information about the challenges and related factors in the veterinary supplies warehouse management practice.

Data collection tools and procedures

To collect the primary data, structured self-administered five-level Likert scale questionnaires [that were rated from strongly disagree to strongly agree where 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4 = agree, and 5 = strongly agree], observational checklists, and a semi-structured interview guide [adopted from standard criteria from the Logistic Indicator Assessment Tool (LIAT) developed by the USAID Deliver Project and data collection tools] from various related articles were referred for adoption and customized to the local context ( 11 , 24 , 29 – 31 ).

Two veterinary pharmacists and the principal investigators were allocated and participated as data collectors for quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data used to assess veterinary pharmaceutical stock management-related practices was collected using structured, self-administered questionnaires. The five-level Likert scale questionnaires were used to assess warehousing activities and human and material resource management practices at the selected facilities, and 75 participants filled out the questionnaire. The veterinary supplies storage conditions of the facilities were evaluated using checklists through direct physical observation ( Supplementary material 3 ), and a semi-structured, open-ended interview guide was used to collect the qualitative data through face-to-face interviews.

The district veterinary clinics veterinary drug and input supply officer, veterinary drug store and control personnel, drug dispensers, veterinary drug wholesalers technical managers, and assistant storekeepers from the sampled facilities participated in filling out the self-administered questionnaire. The qualitative data was collected through face-to-face interviews with KIs using the prepared interview guide. Interviews were conducted with district livestock and fishery resource development heads, district animal health department coordinators, private veterinary drug wholesaler owners, and wholesaler technical managers. Interview guides were prepared in English and then translated into Amharic, the working and local language in the study area. The principal investigator interviewed the KIs in depth for an average of 30 min. Notes were taken, and KI responses were also audio-taped.

Data quality assurance

The study questionnaire and interview guide were derived from a standard tool and developed after reviewing previously studied related research ( 11 , 24 , 30 ). To maintain the quality of the data and to encourage the meaningful participation of the respondents, the layout of the questionnaires was kept clear and very simple. Prior to data collection, the principal investigator provided training to data collectors on data collection procedures and the significance of the study. Before being entered into the Statistical Packages for Social Science (SPSS) and MS Excel, the collected data was carefully checked for accuracy, cleaned for completeness, consistency, omissions, and irregularities., Every day, during data collection, the misunderstood questions were elaborated accordingly. To ensure the reliability of self-administered questionnaires and the respondent's understanding of the questions, the questionnaire was pretested with 5% of the total sample size of the study, which is not included in the study area.

A scale reliability test was conducted for Likert scale items and reliability analysis; Cronbach's alpha was calculated using SPSS version 26. If the Cronbach's alpha coefficient is close to 1.0, then there is greater internal consistency in the items, and a value >0.700 is considered very acceptable for SCM activities (72). For this study, the value of Cronbach's alpha ( Table 1 ) for the Likert scale questionnaire is >0.70.

Table 1 . Summary of the reliability analysis test.

For qualitative data, the probing and flexible questions and interview guide were initially prepared in English and then translated into Amharic by the principal investigator after consulting with people with good command of the two languages. Data collection was undertaken by the researcher, and the interviews were transcribed each day after the interview. Missing ideas and any need for clarification were addressed throughout the process. For data consistency and completeness, all Amharic transcripts were cross-checked with the oral discourse. After repeated reading of the filled-out notes and careful listening to the audio records, coding, and recoding of the contents were done with peer review. The principal investigator also used the reflexivity method to improve the quality of data collection, which enabled better probing, fewer assumptions, the avoidance of premature interpretation, and an accentuated sense of curiosity during the interview ( 32 ).

Data analysis and interpretation

The collected primary data was used to show the magnitude of stock management, storage conditions of the facilities, warehousing activities of the facilities using the target variables (receiving, storing, and issuing), and human and material resource management practices at a facility level. The quantitative data was coded and entered into SPSS version 26 and Microsoft Excel 2010 for analysis. Descriptive statistics (frequency, percentage, mean, and standard deviations) were computed, and summary results were presented using tables, graphs, and charts. The qualitative data obtained from the in-depth interview was analyzed and summarized using a thematic approach ( 33 ). The grand mean and standard deviation (SD) were used to interpret the Likert scale data gathered to assess the warehousing activities of the target variables (receiving, storing, and issuing) and the human and material resource management practices at a facility level. Each warehousing activity (receiving, storing, and issuing) was assessed using four items, and human and material resource management practices were assessed using seven items. The grand mean and SD of the target variables were computed from the respective items ( Table 7 ). The interval range of the 5-likert scale ( Table 2 ) was calculated according to the principle of the grouped data frequency distribution formula ( 34 ). The mean of their response scores for each variable represented their level of satisfaction with pharmaceutical warehousing activities and human and material resource management practices, whereas the SD represented their deviation from the central value ( 35 , 36 ).

Table 2 . The interval range of Likert scale questionnaires used for this study.

The results of the computed mean were then leveled as “strongly disagreeing” if a variable with a mean score fell in the interval of 1–1.8, “disagreeing” if the score fell in the interval of 1.81–2.60, “neutral” if the score fell in the interval of 2.61–3.4, “agreeing” if the score fell in the interval of 3.41–4.2, and “strongly agreeing” if the score fell in the interval of 4.21–5. An SD of > 0.9 implies a significant difference in the target variable among respondents ( 37 , 38 ).

To interpret the results of the mean and SD easily and clearly, the scales were reassigned as follows, and the verbal interpretation was made based on the recommendations of previous researchers ( 37 – 39 ) ( Table 3 ).

Table 3 . Verbal interpretation of the scale.

The percentage of storage conditions was calculated as the average number of “yes” responses in the checklist and the number of standard storage conditions in the checklist ( 40 ) using Equation (3) .

The management of storage conditions associated with veterinary pharmaceutical products was also classified as “poor” and “good” store management. The interpretation was made based on the recommendation from previous research and the principles of pharmaceutical warehouse operations management of the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Fund Supply Agency (PFSA), now known as the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Supply Services (EPSS), published in 2015 ( 11 ). Based on this, pharmaceutical warehouses or facilities that fulfilled at least 80% of the criteria for good storage conditions were considered acceptable and have good storage conditions, whereas those that fulfilled <80% were considered poor storage conditions ( 40 ).

For the qualitative data, the principal investigator performed face-to-face, in-depth interviews to explore the challenges faced in veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse management practices. The investigator transcribed the audio recordings of in-depth interviews and discussions verbatim. Textual notes and audio-recorded data were repeatedly read and listened to. Audio recordings and notes were translated into English. The thematic analysis technique was used to analyze the data collected from the KIs as per the approach and steps recommended by Braun and Clarke ( 41 ). By doing so, the investigator became familiar with the textual notes and audio recordings and began taking notes accordingly. Then, the data was coded and written up using MS Word. The coded data was organized to search for themes and subthemes. After that, similar subthemes were grouped, named, and described thematically. Thematic contents were formulated, and a master list of themes was developed based on the research questions and conceptual framework. Finally, the report was produced using an exploratory approach and triangulated with the quantitative result.

The background information of veterinary health facilities and respondents' profile

To assess pharmaceutical warehouse management practices and their challenges, 37 veterinary health facilities−29 (78.4%) district veterinary clinics and 8 (21.6%) private veterinary drug wholesalers—were invited. All 37 facilities participated with a 100% response rate. Among the respondents, the majority (27; 36%) were district veterinary clinic drug store personnel, and 6 (8%) were veterinary drug wholesaler technical managers ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1 . Professional designations of the respondents from district government veterinary clinics and private veterinary drug wholesalers.

The majority of respondents (35; 46.7%) were qualified in advanced animal health, and 4 (5.3%) had veterinary pharmacy professional qualifications ( Figure 2 ). Furthermore, 36 (48%) of the respondents held degrees, 35 (46.7%) held diplomas, and 4 (5.3%) had obtained MSc level of education. In terms of work experience, 42 (56%) had 3–6 years, 18 (24%) had >7 years, and 15 (20%) had 0–2 years of experience.

Figure 2 . Professional qualifications of the respondents. AH, Animal health; BVSC, Bachelor of Veterinary Science; Vet, Veterinary; DVM, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

Advanced animal health: animal health professionals who took advanced animal health qualification courses at the college level for 3 years and were certified.

Bachelor of Veterinary Science: Veterinary professionals who took animal health qualification courses at the university level for 3 years and were certified.

Veterinary Pharmacy: Professionals who have been certified by taking full veterinary pharmacy qualification courses for 4 years at the university level.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine: a veterinary professional who took animal health qualification courses at the university level for 6 years and was certified.

Assessment of veterinary drug warehouse management practices of the facilities

Veterinary pharmaceutical stock management-related practices of the facility.

All the facilities managed both veterinary drugs (medicines) and other equipment and supplies used in veterinary healthcare services. The majority of the facilities (26; 70.3%) used mixed-type drug arrangement methods, while 8 (21.6%) used pharmacological drug arrangement methods. Bin cards and system software/electronic data interchange technology were not used in any of the surveyed facilities. Of the surveyed facilities, in 23 (62.2%), pharmaceutical information was handled manually or on paper, and 4 (10.8%) utilized mixed-based information handling methods. More than half of the facilities (59.5%) also reported that they did not have a written manual or standard operating procedure (SOP) to manage warehouse practices. The majority of facilities did not dispose of expired products on time (32; 86.5%) and did not have documented policies and guidelines (31; 83.8%) for the management of veterinary drug waste ( Table 4 ).

Table 4 . Summary of stock management practices at the facility.

Assessment of storage conditions by facility type

Storage conditions of district government veterinary clinics.

The storage areas of 29 governmental veterinary clinics were assessed through physical observation using 20 criteria. The study found that the majority (27; 93.1%) of the facilities were protected from direct sunlight−19 (65.5%) stores had separate storage and dispensing areas. However, none of the stores had fire safety equipment or wall thermometers. Only 14 (48.3%) facilities had separate storage areas for expired and damaged products and a very limited number of stores (20.7%) had pallets and shelves. In only a few stores were products stacked at least 20 cm away from the walls (17.2%), 10 cm off the floor (10.3%), and on racks over 2.5 m in length (17.2%). Overall, the average performance of district government veterinary clinics that met the criteria for acceptable storage conditions was 48.3% ( Supplementary material 4 ).

Of the 29 surveyed government district veterinary health clinics, no facility met the criteria for good storage conditions, and seven had a storage condition performance of 25% or below ( Figure 3 ).

Figure 3 . Performance of storage conditions at government district veterinary clinics.

Storage conditions in private veterinary drug wholesalers

The stores of 8 private veterinary drug wholesalers were assessed through physical observation using 20 criteria. The study found that products were protected from direct sunlight in all stores. In all the stores visited, palettes and shelves were accessible, and dispensing and storage areas were separated. The majority (75%) of the facilities had separate storage rooms for damaged and expired goods, and during the physical inspection, all stores looked free from harmful insects and rodents. Only four facilities (50%) had separate and specialized storage areas for flammable products and chemicals. Products were stacked at least 20 cm away from walls, 10 cm from the floor, and on racks that were 2.5 m in length in the majority of stores (87.5%) inspected. Overall, the average performance of private veterinary drug wholesalers that complied with the acceptable storage criteria was 86.25% ( Supplementary material 5 ). Of the eight private drug wholesalers surveyed, six met the criteria for good storage conditions with an average percentage >80% ( Figure 4 ).

Figure 4 . Performance of storage conditions at private veterinary drug wholesalers.

The overall adherence to storage conditions in the district government veterinary clinics and private veterinary drug wholesalers was, on average, 48.3 and 86.25%, respectively ( Figure 5 ).

Figure 5 . Average adherence to acceptable storage conditions by facility type.

Assessment of veterinary pharmaceutical warehousing activities

The warehousing activities (receiving, storing, and issuing) of the surveyed facilities were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and the grand mean and standard deviation of the target variables were computed ( Table 5 ).

Table 5 . The grand mean and standard deviation of the target variables.

Receiving activities

The majority of respondents had a “neutral” response to their facility's pharmaceutical receiving activities, with a mean value of 3.31 and an SD of 0.64. The individual response for each item in the receiving activities is shown in Table 6 .

Table 6 . Respondent's perception of each item in the receiving activities of the facility.

Storing activities

The majority of respondents were found to “disagree” with their facility's pharmaceutical storing activities, with a mean value of 2.53 and an SD of 0.89. The individual response to each item in the storing activities is shown in Table 7 .

Table 7 . Respondent's perception of each item in the storing activities of the facility.

Issuing activity

The study found that the majority of respondents agreed on their facility's pharmaceutical issuing activities, with a mean value of 4.07 and an SD of 0.44. The individual response to each item in the issuing activities is shown in Table 8 .

Table 8 . Respondent's perception of each item in the issuing activities of the facility.

Assessment of human and materials resource management practices of the facilities

The current study found that the majority of respondents “disagreed” with the facilities' human and material resource management practices, with a mean value of 2.40 and an SD of 0.61 ( Supplementary material 6 ). The socio-demographic data collected for this study indicated that the majority (71; 94.7%) of employees had non-veterinary pharmacy professional qualifications, and only 4 (5.3%) were veterinary pharmacy professionals ( Figure 2 ). The study also found that 43 (57.3%) participants had not received or participated in any on-the-job training sessions ( Table 9 ).

Table 9 . Summary of training history of respondents.

When the respondents were asked about training, all of them indicated their desire to take training in the future, and they pointed out the types of training they required ( Figure 6 ).

Figure 6 . Training desirability among respondents.

Results of qualitative data

In this study, qualitative data was collected using a face-to-face interview to identify and explore the challenges faced by government district veterinary clinics and private veterinary drug wholesalers in managing their veterinary supplies warehouses.

Socio-demographic characteristics of key informants

A total of 14 KIs were interviewed for this study. The majority of them (5; 35.7%) were District Livestock and Fishery Resource Development heads, 4 (28.6%) were Animal Health Department coordinators, and the remaining were from private veterinary drug wholesalers ( Figure 7 ). Concerning their educational qualifications, 5 (35.7%) had a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, 5 (35.7%) had a bachelor's degree in Veterinary Science, 2 (21.4%) had a diploma in Advanced Animal Health, and 2 (21.4%) had a degree in Veterinary Pharmacy.

Figure 7 . Socio-demographic characteristics of key informants. DLFRD, District Livestock and Fishery Resource Development; AH dept, Animal Health Department; Vet, veterinary.

The assessment of the challenges linked to the veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse management practices

As perceived by the KIs, the surveyed facilities face enormous challenges related to veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse management practices. Based on the characteristics of the data, the challenges were divided into three major thematic areas. These were infrastructure challenges, human and material resource challenges, and challenges related to the sale and purchase of veterinary drugs.

Theme one: challenges associated with infrastructure

This theme focuses on challenges raised regarding the warehouse and storage areas of veterinary pharmaceutical products. Key informants reported that the lack of adequate storage space is a challenge in almost all facilities. Most KIs mentioned that “the layout of our pharmaceutical warehouse is not designed based on the standard of drug storage and lacks storage space to accommodate all the stock appropriately” (heads, District Livestock and Fishery Resource Development and coordinators, Animal Health Department).

This statement was supported by one other KI who said:

The main challenge in our district is the inadequacy of drug storerooms. As you have seen, our drugstore is very narrow and old, and we do not have enough pallets and shelves. Our drug store is not free from leakage of water, dust, or direct sunlight. We have no warehouse built for this purpose. To store drugs, we assign empty buildings or offices. It is not as per the standards (Coordinator, District Animal Health, BVSc, 3 years of experience).

Another KI stated:

Due to a shortage of adequate storage space, we are forced to store different products, like flammable chemicals, laboratory reagents, expired products, and even non-functional equipment, together with unexpired pharmaceutical products, in the same storage area. This makes it impossible to track the product accurately. But we have no option (Head, District Livestock And Fishery Resource Development, MSc, 5 years of experience).

One more KI emphasized:

The drug storage area is our major challenge. During a meeting at the district and regional level, I wrote a letter and forwarded questions to district leaders and to other higher governmental bodies. But still, this problem is not solved. This is due to budget constraints and the lack of awareness and attention of district leaders and other higher governmental bodies in this sector. Some even think that veterinary drugs do not need special warehouses and storage areas because they consider veterinary drugs to be like other materials (Head, District Livestock And Fishery Resource Development, DVM, 3 years of experience).

On infrastructure, almost all respondents from the private drug wholesalers emphasized that issues related to building rent are their major challenges. “There is a time-to-time rent cost increment, and it isn't easy to search for standard buildings that fit with the directives of VDFACA. So, it creates a big challenge for our business” (Owners and Technical Managers, Private Wholesalers).

Theme two: challenges associated with human and material resources

Human resource.

Most key informants mentioned that the shortage of qualified staff to perform activities like drug storage, issuing, and dispensing is a challenge. A KI remarked, “In our woreda, most of the district clinic drug stores and dispensers are run by non-pharmacy professionals.” One KI stated:

This is the only district clinic in this woreda, and we have 37 clinics at the kebele level. Conversely, we have only one district drug store control person. He performs many activities. He works as an accountant by giving receipts to customers. At the same time, he dispenses drugs. He also works as a drug store employee, issuing drugs to professionals coming from each kebele. There is a high workload among the available professionals. There was no compensation for work overload, and there were no educational opportunities. So, how can we be effective in drug handling and management? (District livestock and fishery resource development heads and animal health department coordinators, Coordinator, Animal Health Department, BVSc, 7 years of experience).

This KI also confirmed that “there is no job description used for district drug dispensary and drug store personnel.”

Training related challenges

All KI interviewed from district clinics mentioned that their main challenge in pharmaceutical warehouse management was the lack of equipment and materials such as fire extinguishers, ventilation, wall thermometers, computers, cold chain materials/ice boxes, and vehicles used for drug transportation (heads, District Livestock and Fishery Resource Development and coordinators, Animal Health Department).

This statement was emphasized by another KI:

Our district is grouped under the desert area, so the drug store needs ventilation and a wall thermometer to control the temperature daily, but as you see, our wall thermometer and the ventilation have not been functional for the last 2 months. Non-functional equipment is not timely renewed (Coordinator, District Animal Health Department, DVM, 5 years of experience).

Yet another KI added:

We have no vehicle for transporting drugs from our supplier and distributing drugs to our kebele clinics. Drugs are transported in public vehicles like Bajaj, motorcycles, or even by human carriage. This exposes drugs to external factors like direct sunlight, which reduces the quality of the drug (Head, District Livestock and Fishery Resource Development, BVSc, 9 years of experience).

All the KI mentioned that they need system software and standardized manuals. One KI admitted that these manuals “facilitate our warehousing activities, but still no one uses them.” Another KI added, “our activities are not electronic. This is due to budget constraints and a lack of computers. Our staff is not also trained in this regard.” (heads, District Livestock and Fishery Resource Development and coordinators, Animal Health Department).

Theme three: challenges associated with the sale or purchase of veterinary drugs

KIs were interviewed about the challenges faced in the sale and purchase of pharmaceuticals, and all highlighted that availability, affordability, financial resources, and regulatory-related challenges were their major issues.

Availability and affordability of veterinary drugs

According to the KIs, the availability and ability to obtain essential veterinary drugs at an affordable cost are their biggest challenges. In particular, the KIs from drug wholesalers indicated that there was an inadequate supply of veterinary drugs. For instance, one KI said, “Importers are not able to supply the drugs needed by our customers. Even now, it is difficult to afford the drugs available on the market. The lack of availability of essential veterinary drugs is our major challenge in our commercial endeavors.” Another KI added: “As an example, when we see pen-strep, it has not been available on the market for the last 2 months, and its cost has increased from 170 to 650 ETB per vial” (Technical Manager and Owner, Veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse, 2 years of experience).

All the KIs from the district clinics also emphasized this statement by saying that:

Drug availability is our major challenge. We have had no pen-strep for the last 4 months. This is very essential for treating the majority of animal diseases. The Amhara region veterinary drug and input supply agency is the main supplier for all districts in the region, but the agency cannot supply as per our requisition.

One KI strongly highlighted,

We frequently face a shortage of animal drugs. We do not get some items on the market because of the current shortage of hard currency in our country, and due to this, it is difficult to deliver full services to the community (heads, District Livestock and Fishery Resource Development and coordinators, Animal Health Department).

Regulatory-related challenges

Most KIs from district clinics mentioned that “government regulatory bodies like VDFACA and other regional and zonal agricultural and livestock offices do not support us in the fulfillment of pharmaceutical warehouses except for some irregular training they deliver.” Another KI added by saying, “We expect more from VDFACA in addition to facilitating training to realize the quality of veterinary drugs. But still, their effort in this regard is very low” (heads, District Livestock and Fishery Resource Development and coordinators, Animal Health Department).

All the KIs from the drug wholesalers emphasized that “The lack of a regulatory and service chain between regional and federal regulatory bodies of VDFACA is a challenge. Making contracts with our employees (technical managers and assistant storekeepers) and even renewing our license requires a trip to the central FDFACA.” On this issue, all the respondents appeared quite emotional and exasperated and asked, “Why is the Amhara regional branch of the VDFACA unable to perform these tasks? This creates a big challenge for our services.”

Most of the KIs also highlighted that “Disposing of expired and unusable pharmaceutical products is our challenge. There are teams or committee members organized from different sectors, but the team is not working actively. We don't have policies and guidelines to manage these waste products” (heads, District Livestock and Fishery Resource Development and coordinators, Animal Health Department). One KI from the government district clinic emphasized, “I have worked in this district for over 15 years, including the last 5 years as the district livestock resource coordinator. In our drug store, there are many expired vaccines, drugs, and chemicals that were in our clinics and collected from kebele clinics starting 10 years ago and are still lying in our store. We always write a letter to the district managers, but they are still not committed to implementing this” (Coordinator, Animal Health Department, BVSc, 16 years of experience).

Budget-related challenges

Most KIs from the district clinics mentioned that: “Inadequate allocations of budgets are the major challenge for us to fulfill regulations relating to premises, including infrastructure, buildings, and human and material resources, which are essential for achieving good practices in pharmaceutical warehouse management and providing basic service at the facility level.” A majority of them support the argument that “even within the sector, budget allocation is not fair since the livestock sector has merged with agriculture. Most of the budget is allocated for the agricultural and livestock production wings rather than the maintenance of livestock health” (heads, District Livestock and Fishery Resource Development and coordinators, Animal Health Department).

To maintain the quality and efficacy of pharmaceutical products, good warehouse management is central and requires attention among other pharmaceutical supply chain activities. To provide effective health services, whether in animal or human health aspects, a pharmaceutical warehouse and store should be properly installed, and drugs should be properly managed and handled ( 11 , 14 ). Without proper pharmaceutical storage management, the entire healthcare system will fail. In the livestock sector, high-income countries have established systems for assessing and monitoring the quality of veterinary products available in the market and at service delivery sites, whereas most low- and middle-income countries still struggle to monitor the proper use of veterinary medications ( 4 ).

Literature suggests that pharmaceuticals should be clearly organized and arranged with each zone of the store to make it much easier for store personnel to control stock, take periodic stock inventories, pick orders, and time will not be wasted ( 42 , 43 ). The current study found that in the majority (26; 70.3%) of surveyed facilities, mixed-type veterinary drug arrangement methods were used. This finding is higher than the finding of the study conducted on the pharmaceutical storage of public health centers at North Shoa Zone, which showed that in 29.3% of facilities, products were arranged in mixed types. The observed difference could be due to the availability of adequate storage space and sufficient shelves and pallets in the medical health sector. In that study, shelves were sufficiently available in 27 (65.9%) facilities out of 41 health facilities ( 44 ), whereas the availability of pallets and shelves in the current study was only about 60.35% on average from the surveyed 37 facilities.

Implementing automated systems is essential for managing warehouse operations and enables warehouse managers to complete their responsibilities more quickly, precisely, affordably, and flexibly (3, 41, 42). The present study found that none of the facilities had system software or electronic data interchange technology, 23 (62.2%) facilities handled pharmaceutical-related information, and everything was paper-based. This contradicted the findings of a study conducted at private medical drug wholesalers in Gondar, Ethiopia, which showed that 80% of the surveyed facilities' pharmaceutical warehouse management practices used the Professional Electronic Data System (PEDS) ( 11 ).

This difference might be due to the type of health facilities studied and the fact that the amount of stock managed in the medical pharmacy store may be huge, making it difficult to manage that huge stock manually. The non-use of system software in veterinary health facilities may be due to financial constraints on computer access and a lack of trained professionals. The quantitative result of this study indicated that the activities being carried out in the surveyed facilities were manual and paper-based. This was also supported by the qualitative result, in which budget-related constraints, computer access, and a lack of trained staff were the major challenges to automating their warehousing practices. Therefore, these findings establish that veterinary pharmaceutical stock arrangements and pharmaceutical-related information are not handled in an organized way.

Even if using a bin card is a time-consuming and laborious task, implementing this professional tool enables store managers to accomplish their activities in a rapid, effective, and cost-effective manner ( 11 ). However, this study revealed that bin cards were not utilized in any of the surveyed facilities. This finding contradicts the results of a study conducted on inventory management of laboratory commodities in Gambela regional state and Jimma zone, Southwest Ethiopia, which found that utilization of bin cards was 58.8 and 69.9%, respectively ( 45 , 46 ). Additionally, the result is also contrary to the findings of the study conducted in public health centers on pharmaceutical store management practices in Addis Ababa and the North Shoa Zone, which indicated that bin card utilization was 48.9 and 54%, respectively ( 30 , 44 ).

The quantitative result of the current study showed that the performance of bin card utilization in the surveyed veterinary health facilities was very low. The qualitative result also supported this finding with KIs noting the presence of a professional awareness gap on the use of bin cards; low ownership and attention given by higher managerial units; less commitment of the district veterinary drug and input supply officer; a lack of trained and qualified store personnel; and a lack of supportive supervision by regulatory bodies and district leaders. This indicated poor implementation of veterinary supplies stock-keeping practices in the surveyed veterinary health facilities.

The standard operational procedure simplifies the warehouse's operations by providing specific step-by-step instructions for each activity and ensuring the quality of the activities performed in the warehouse uses the same measurable standards every time ( 47 ). However, the present study found that 22 (59.5%) facilities had no standardized written manual. It was lower than the results of the study conducted in public health centers and hospitals in Dessie Town, Ethiopia, which showed that 80% of the facilities had standard guidelines for managing commodities in their stores ( 48 ). The observed difference might be due to differences in study facilities. The finding of this study was to deduce if in the majority of veterinary health facilities, warehouse practices are performed randomly or as per standards.

Scientific evidence recommends that expired or damaged stocks should be immediately removed from the usable inventory and sent to a separate place according to the established guidelines. This is because pharmaceutical waste could be dangerous and may pollute the environment habituated by the general public or wildlife, or even be diverted to the marketplace for illegal resale ( 49 , 50 ). However, the present study found that the majority (32; 86.5%) of surveyed veterinary health facilities did not dispose of expired products promptly, and 31 (83.8%) facilities did not have documented policies and guidelines for managing veterinary drug waste. The disposal practices found in the current study were poor compared to the study conducted in the North Shoa Zone, which showed 63.4% of health facilities disposed of pharmaceutical waste. In a study conducted in Addis Ababa, 66.7% of the health centers disposed of pharmaceutical waste within a year, and the availability of waste disposal documents was 100% ( 44 , 51 ). The observed difference could be due to differences in study settings, as currently, the human health sector is implementing an integrated pharmaceutical logistics system throughout health facilities and using the pharmaceutical waste rate as one of the key performance indicators for pharmaceutical logistics. According to the quantitative result of the current study, the expired and waste product disposal practices in the veterinary health sector were poor. This was also strengthened by the results obtained from the face-to-face interview, as the majority of KIs stated that most facilities do not have policies or guidelines to manage waste products. Some government district clinics have not disposed of expired products for the past 10 years.

Storage conditions of the facilities

Storage conditions are regarded as the cornerstone of warehouse management practices. Any defect in the storage area may result in obsolescence, deterioration, spoilage, pilferage, or breakage of stock due to excessive overstocking. Furthermore, the poisonous degradation of products can be hazardous to humans and the environment ( 30 , 52 ). The present study revealed that the average percentage of storage conditions in government district veterinary clinics and private veterinary drug wholesalers is 48.3 and 86.25%, respectively. This observed difference in storage performance between governmental and private entities could be because private veterinary drug wholesalers might be subject to inspections by government regulatory bodies. Furthermore, they also face strict control for the layout and fulfillment of the warehouse premises before their license is issued. According to this study's finding, the government district veterinary clinics did not meet the criteria for acceptable storage conditions, which was below the acceptable range (80%).

This finding is consistent with the study results conducted on assessing pharmaceutical store management practices in public hospitals in Addis Ababa, which showed an average adherence to proper storage conditions at 47.1% ( 30 ). The similarity of the findings could be that both were governmental facilities, so regulatory bodies and management units may not pay attention. However, the result was lower than the results of the study conducted on inventory management for laboratory commodities from health facilities in Gambela regional state and Jimma zone, Ethiopia, which indicated that the overall adherence to the criteria for proper storage conditions was 68.2 and 70.6%, respectively ( 45 , 53 ). The current study generally indicated the storage conditions in governmental district veterinary clinics were poor and below the acceptable limit (≥80%). This could be due to a lack of adequate storage space. The qualitative result also supports this because most of the KIs invited for interviews stated that the main challenge in their districts was the inadequacy of drug storerooms and the lack of standardized design and layout.

On the other hand, private veterinary drug wholesalers met the criteria for acceptable storage conditions, with an overall performance of 86.25%, which is considerably good (≥80%) ( 40 ). The percentage of storage conditions in private veterinary pharmaceutical wholesalers found in this study was higher than those of a study conducted on pharmaceutical warehouse management practices among private medical pharmaceutical wholesalers in Gondar, Ethiopia, which found that the facilities' storage performance was 68.75%. The difference could be due to the commitment of the concerned regulatory bodies to inspecting, controlling, providing feedback, and supervising the facilities.

Warehousing activities of the facilities

Receiving, storing, and issuing/shipping goods are the key operational tasks carried out in the warehouse, and proper practice of all the tasks is vital to warehouse management ( 54 ). Scientific studies suggest that warehouse management practices may differ across different sectors. It depends on various variables, such as material turnover and demand specifications, the type of materials used, the organizational unit's operational scope, and its size ( 55 ). Researchers recommend that if the tasks of receiving in a warehouse are not operated properly, they make up roughly 10% of operating expenditures in any distribution center ( 56 ). Regarding the receiving activities, the present study found that the majority of respondents had “neutral” responses to the performance of pharmaceutical receiving activities at the facility level, with a computed mean value of 3.31 that falls within the range of 2.61–3.4 and an SD of 0.64. From the analysis, it can be deduced that the current pharmaceutical receiving activity of the veterinary health facilities, which includes the availability of a pre-notification area for incoming pharmaceutical products, procedures for the cross-checking and identification of the documents and products received, procedures for the notification of discrepancies to the suppliers for the returning and receiving of products, and the safety of the receiving space for the movement of products handling equipment, is moderately satisfied. The SD of 0.64 indicates that there were no extremes in respondents' positive or negative scores. As stated in the literature, receiving activities should get strict attention, as they make up roughly 10% of operating expenditures in any distribution center. However, the qualitative result of this study indicated that governmental bodies did not pay attention to the sector, especially for the fulfillment of infrastructure and storage premises ( 56 ).

Regarding the storing activities, the majority of respondents “disagreed” with their facility's performance of pharmaceutical storing operations, with a computed mean value of 2.53 that falls within the range of 1.81–2.60 and an SD of 0.89. This indicated the current pharmaceutical storage activity of the veterinary health facilities, which includes the availability of adequate storage areas to store the inspected products, the arrangement of drugs in the storage area as clearly identified with their categories, the availability of clearly recorded and traceable locations for storing products, and the fact that products are stored according to the manufacturer's storage specifications at all times, were unsatisfactory. The standard deviation of 0.89 indicates that there are no extremes in respondents' positive or negative scores. Researchers suggest that storing activities cost ~15% of warehouse operating costs ( 56 ). However, the qualitative findings of this study show that the storage activities of the facilities are not based on standards.

Regarding issuing activities, this study found that the majority of respondents were “in agreement” with a computed mean value of 4.07 that falls within the range of 3.4–4.2 and an SD of 0.44 for the performance of the facility's pharmaceutical issuing activities. From the analysis, it can be deduced that the pharmaceutical issuing activity of the veterinary health facilities in terms of products is picked based on the printed order picking format; products are picked in the order of the FEFO principle; records are updated when goods are issued from their storage areas; and the availability of enough areas for product packing, labeling, and dispatching is “satisfactory.” An SD of 0.44 indicates that the majority of respondents had similar reflections.

Human and material resources management practices

In pharmaceutical warehouse management practices, the personnel who work there and handle the materials have a direct role in managing the stock and all other warehouse operations ( 53 ). Researchers also suggested that effective pharmaceutical warehouse management is determined by the professional's qualification level, training and capacity building, and the accessibility of sufficient material and equipment (which are crucial because they guard against future harm to the workers and the warehouse) ( 11 , 54 ). The present study found that the availability of qualified and sufficient numbers of staff to manage warehouse operations and the availability of equipment and materials used for facilitating warehouse activities at the surveyed facilities were unsatisfactory, with a computed mean value of 2.40 falling within the range of 1.81–2.60, and an SD of 0.61. This finding establishes that the human and material resource management practices, which comprise the availability of a sufficient number of staff, awareness of staff on veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse management principles, availability of job descriptions for their respected duties, availability of sufficient materials and equipment like personal protective materials, store safety materials like fire extinguishers, ladders and pallet jacks, hand trucks, etc. to facilitate warehouse activities, and the delivery of timely maintenance support and replacement for the equipment in the warehouses when it is not working satisfactorily. The SD of 0.61 indicates that the majority of respondents had similar reflections.

Evidence also suggests that the level of exposure to pharmaceutical warehouse management practices and other related supply chain activities is different for different professionals. Medicine storage is one of the most important responsibilities that can be best handled by a pharmacist ( 57 ). Accordingly, the veterinary pharmacy professional has direct exposure to the related tasks compared to non-pharmacy animal health professionals. The present study found that most of the veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse management activities were performed by non-pharmacy professionals (71, 94.7%); on the other hand, the involvement of veterinary pharmacy professionals in pharmaceutical warehouse practice was only about 4 (5.3%). This is in line with the result of the study conducted on the assessment of inventory and store management practices of pharmaceuticals in public health centers and hospitals in Dessie Town, Ethiopia, which showed only two institutions (20%) completely controlled and operated their stores by pharmacists ( 48 ). However, this was lower than the result of the study conducted in India, where 60% of the health centers were operated by pharmacists ( 58 ). This observed difference could be due to the difference in the study population.

The observed difference might also be due to the availability of educated human resources and the absence of job descriptions. As stated in the literature, a review conducted on veterinary drug management, handling, utilization, resistance, and side effects confirmed that low educational levels and a lack of graduates in veterinary medicine who are aware of pharmaceutical warehouse management were the major problems in veterinary drug handling and management ( 14 ). The absence of a job description for veterinary pharmacy professionals was supported by a qualitative result, as key informants confirmed that there is no job description used for district drug dispensaries and drug store personnel.

Different scholars suggest that employing qualified warehouse personnel and providing necessary training is crucial in improving the productivity of warehousing operations ( 10 , 53 ). However, the present study revealed that more than half (57.3%) of the study participants had not received on-the-job training in veterinary drug management, handling, and other related activities. The findings are somewhat consistent with a study carried out on the veterinary drug supply chain in Uganda, which found that nearly 90% of drug retailers and veterinary drug practitioners did not receive specialized training in veterinary medicine handling and storage management. The findings are also consistent with another study conducted on the assessment of veterinary drug handling, management, and supply chain in Ethiopia's Afar Pastoral Region, which found that ~63.9% of respondents lacked sufficient knowledge on safe handling and management of veterinary drugs ( 21 , 24 ).

Strengths and limitations of the study

This study was the first in the country to assess the status of veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse management practices and will serve as a baseline for future research. Furthermore, the strength of this study was that it used both quantitative and qualitative approaches in assessing existing practices and the challenges of veterinary supplies warehouse management practices. However, due to insufficient previous studies conducted in veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse management practices in the study area and abroad, it was difficult to compare the results with those conducted in similar settings. Besides, due to time constraints, geographic distance, and financial limitations, this study did not cover all the facilities available in the study area.

Conclusion and recommendations

This study revealed that most of the surveyed facilities in the study area did not prioritize the management practices of veterinary supply warehouses. The study specifically found that the warehouse management practices at government district veterinary clinics and private drug wholesalers were unsatisfactory. This was evident because 23 (59.5%) facilities lacked standard operating procedures for warehouse activities, and no veterinary health facilities utilized bin cards and system software. Furthermore, the majority of facilities (32; 86.5%) did not have guidelines for drug disposal and failed to dispose of expired drugs on time. The storage conditions at government district veterinary clinics were poor, with 48.3% meeting below the minimum requirements for good storage conditions. In contrast, the storage conditions at private veterinary drug wholesalers were good, with 86.25% meeting the necessary standards.

On warehousing activities, the storing activities and human and material resource management practices of the surveyed facilities were not satisfactory. Key informants highlighted several challenges that hindered effective veterinary supplies warehouse management, such as inadequate infrastructure, lack of qualified and trained staff, insufficient storage safety and security equipment, issues with pharmaceutical product availability and affordability, weak regulatory framework, and budget constraints at the facility level. Overall, the study found that warehouse management practices in the surveyed facilities were significantly poor. To enhance the management practices of veterinary pharmaceutical warehouses, various entities, including the District Veterinary Health Service offices, zonal Agricultural and Veterinary Health Services offices, Amhara Region Livestock and Fishery Resource Development office, Veterinary Drug and Feed Administration Control Authority, and veterinary professionals must make concerted efforts.

Data availability statement

The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article/ Supplementary material , further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author.

Ethics statement

The study was conducted after obtaining approval and clearance letters from the University of Gondar, School of Pharmacy with Ref No. S/A/P/67/2014. To collect data from the selected facilities letters of permission were obtained from the Amhara region livestock and fishery resource development office and the Ethiopian veterinary drug and feed control administration authority, Amhara regional branch. The participants were asked and provided their oral informed consent to participate in this study.

Author contributions

AW: Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Software, Validation, Writing—original draft. TS: Project administration, Supervision, Visualization, Writing—review & editing. AE: Project administration, Supervision, Visualization, Writing—review & editing. YT: Data curation, Validation, Visualizations, Supervision, Writing—review & editing. BW: Project administration, Supervision, Visualization, Writing—review & editing.

The author(s) declare that no financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


We would like to acknowledge the contribution made by the University of Gondar, College of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences and the School of Pharmacy for sponsoring study leave and paying student support fees. The authors also express gratitude to the study participants who work in the district veterinary clinics and private veterinary pharmaceutical wholesalers for their appreciated assistance during the period of data collection. My great thanks are also extended to the social and administrative pharmacy staff, the school of pharmacy, the college of medicine, and the college of veterinary medicine and animal science at the University of Gondar for their professional support.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

The reviewer AB declared a shared affiliation with the authors to the handling editor at the time of review.

Publisher's note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Supplementary material

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at:


AHS, Animal health service; AMR, Antimicrobial resistance; EAA, Ethiopian Agricultural Authority; EMA, European medicine agency; FEFO, first expire first out first in principles; WM, warehouse management; PFSA, pharmaceutical fund and supply agency; SCM, supply chain management; SOP, Standard operational procedures; VDFACA, Veterinary drug and feed administration control authority; VP, Veterinary pharmaceuticals.

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50. Madende S. Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices on Safe Disposal of Pharmaceutical Waste Among Pharmacy, Medical and Dental Interns at Windhoek and Katutura Central Hospitals in Namibia. Johannesburg: University of Johannesburg (2020).

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52. Kassie G, Mammo S. Assessment of pharmaceutical store management in Woreda Health Offices of West Hararghe Zone, Ethiopia. Int Res J Pharm. (2014) 5:642–5. doi: 10.7897/2230-8407.0508131

53. Boche B, Mulugeta T, Gudeta T. Assessment of inventory management practices at the Ethiopian pharmaceuticals supply agency, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Integr Pharm Res Practice. (2020) 9:175. doi: 10.2147/IPRP.S269421

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Keywords: veterinary pharmaceuticals, veterinary clinics, veterinary drug wholesalers, warehouse management practices, Amhara region, Ethiopia

Citation: Wondie Mekonen A, Sintayehu T, Endeshaw Woldeyohanins A, Tefera Mekasha Y and Weldegerima Atsbeha B (2024) Assessment of veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse management practices and its associated challenges in four selected zones and Bahir Dar city of Amhara regional state, Ethiopia. Front. Vet. Sci. 11:1336660. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2024.1336660

Received: 11 November 2023; Accepted: 09 April 2024; Published: 07 May 2024.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2024 Wondie Mekonen, Sintayehu, Endeshaw Woldeyohanins, Tefera Mekasha and Weldegerima Atsbeha. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Abibo Wondie Mekonen, ;

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Supply Chain vs Logistics: Is There Really Much of a Difference?

By Hope Rothenberg on 05/02/2024

A supply chain professional researches logistics

It's a fast-paced world with many moving parts, and maybe your work already plays some role in connecting the dots. Whether you work for a warehouse, a shipping company or in a totally different field, you've found yourself here for one reason: You're fed up with the inefficiency of it all.

You’ve seen some nonsense cost the company, the clients and the employees—all through a lack of organization. You're starting to think about whether a degree could help you get a manager job, because you're pretty sure you're capable of taking matters into your own hands. Research keeps leading you to the same question: Do supply chain and logistics mean the same thing?

Let's clarify what each of these terms means, the key differences between them and how they might impact your future career.

Supply chain vs logistics: Definitions

Jargon, acronyms and technical terms are a part of every major industry—and the logistics and supply chain space is no exception . If you're interested in moving up the ranks in a supply chain management or logistics management role, gaining a solid understanding of what each term means is an essential step.

Supply chain management definition

Supply chain management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing, procurement, conversion and logistics management, according to an official definition from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals ® ( CSCMP ® ). 1

Supply chain management also includes coordination and collaboration with channel partners. This can be suppliers, intermediaries, third party service providers and customers. Essentially, supply chain management integrates supply and demand management within and across companies. 1

The primary responsibility of supply chain management is linking major business functions and processes within and across companies into a cohesive and high-performing business model. It includes all of the logistics management activities noted above, as well as manufacturing operations, and it drives the coordination of processes and activities across marketing, sales, product design, finance and information technology. 1

Logistics management definition

As you can probably glean from the above definition, logistics management is just one part of supply chain management. More specifically, it's the part that plans, implements and controls the efficient and effective forward and reversed flow and storage of goods, services and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption to meet customer requirements. 1

Logistics management activities typically include: 1

  • Inbound logistics and outbound logistics
  • Inbound and outbound transportation management
  • Fleet management
  • Warehousing
  • Raw materials handling
  • Order fulfillment
  • Logistics network design
  • Inventory management
  • Supply and demand planning
  • Third party logistics services providers management

Logistics may also include varying levels of sourcing and procurement, production planning and scheduling, packaging and assembly and customer service. The function is involved in all levels of planning and execution—from the strategic to the operational to the tactical.

Just like overall supply chain management, logistics management is an integrating function coordinating and optimizing all logistics activities. It may also connect logistics activities to marketing, sales manufacturing, finance and information technology. 1

Supply chain vs logistics: Key differences

The main thing to understand when it comes to supply chains and logistics is that they're not two completely separate or unrelated terms. And they're also not the one and the same. Logistics is a part of supply chain management—and the overall supply chain encompasses logistics.

Given that one is part of the other, there are some key differences between the two functions that can be helpful for understanding how they fit together. 2

1. Size and scope

Supply chain operations include and integrate every step and process across the supply and demand network. In that sense, the size and scope are all-encompassing. 1

In comparison to the entire supply chain, the size and scope of logistics is smaller. Logistics encompasses just one part of the supply chain: The part centered around the flow and transportation of goods to and from the customer. 1

2. Focus and specialty

Effective supply chain management is centered around sourcing and procurement, conversion and logistics management. Efficiently coordinating and integrating every aspect of supply and demand management across business operations is the goal. 1

The focus of logistics specifically is the flow and transportation of goods to and from the customer—and all the planning, management, materials handling and network design that goes into that. 1

3. Collaboration and connections

The supply chain links all major business functions. A collaborative supply chain network includes connections across logistics, manufacturing, marketing, sales, product design, finance and information technology. 1

Where the supply chain links all major business functions, logistics primarily integrates the activities within its own function. That said, logistics may also collaborate with marketing, sales manufacturing, finance and information technology. 1

4. Perspective and impact

As an overarching function, supply chain management takes a big-picture strategic view. With its focus on integrating all supply and demand functions, supply chain management has a longer-term impact and shifts over time as trends and markets change. 2

The logistics function is focused more on shorter timeframes. The day-to-day, and even hour-by-hour operations that go into order delivery and fulfillment to get goods to consumers and increase customer satisfaction. Rather than be optimized to meet long-term trends and demands, it's optimized to meet immediate and short-term ones. 2

Supply chain vs logistics: Education

In the realm of education, the differences between these two terms may be emphasized less. That's because a solid bachelor's-level degree program would typically cover and focus on both supply chain management and logistics topics. Think of it the same way as how a bachelor's-level degree program in economics would consist of both macro and microeconomics courses—laying a foundation for two major areas of the field before students move on to focus on one.

As an example of how supply chain and logistics programs are typically structured, here's an overview of Rasmussen University's Supply Chain and Logistics Management Bachelor's Degree program, which can be finished in as few as 18 months. 3

Sample supply chain and logistics courses

Procurement and supplier relations.

Examines multiple purchasing techniques across a range of industries. Offers insights into tactical and strategic decisions routinely found in today's business environment. Demonstrates how to effectively source, solicit bids, negotiate and select suppliers based on real-world scenarios.

Supply Chain Risk and Compliance

Reviews global regulatory compliance mandates. Examines the scope, impact and risks associated with regulation requirements on the supply chain—including managing logistics, trade compliance and environmental and safety compliance.

Transportation and Distribution Management

Covers the essentials of transportation and distribution management. Builds key skills related to selecting the optimal mode of transportation while considering the impact to customers and overall supply chain.

Top supply chain and logistics program skills

If you pursue education in this area, there are some important skills you can expect to work on.

Apply business functions

Develop and apply lean end-to-end processes and tools to deliver goods and services that create value, enhance efficiency and satisfy customers.

Build efficiency through technology

Apply supply chain information technologies, processes and analytics to implement best practices, inform procurement decision making and build relationships.

Gain real-world experience and career confidence

Demonstrate your readiness to hit the ground running through hands-on experiences, and get the skills and you need to feel confident in your career.

Prepare to take the APICS ® CSCP ® Exam

Completing a bachelor's degree in supply chain and logistics management, along with two years of related work experience, can prepare you for the APICS CSCP exam. It is important to check the education and work experience requirements for eligibility to take the CSCP examination.

The CSCP is highly valued by employers, and it is the most widely recognized educational program for operations and supply chain management professionals around the world. 4

Prepare for project management exams

Through the formal education provided by coursework in this program, you may become eligible to sit for the Certified Associate in Project Management ® (CAPM ® ) exam.

It is important to check the specific project management education requirement determined by the Project Management Institute (PMI ® ) for the CAPM ® examination. This information is listed in the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM ® ) handbook .

Supply chain vs logistics: Career paths

When it comes to pursuing a supply chain management or logistics management career, there are a few things to know about each type of role.

Supply chain management careers

You can see how exciting and satisfying a supply chain management career could be. Supply chain management careers tend to be both data-driven and relationship-oriented, meaning they're well-suited to individuals with an affinity for numbers and technology systems as well as people skills and the desire to manage others.

Supply chain management can be a high-pressure field, but it all comes down to being passionate and motivated.

Logistics careers

If you're interested in a career focused on logistics specifically, you're likely already aware of the importance of this global field. It's an essential part of the exciting and challenging supply chain industry, and you'll succeed if you're a motivated worker who doesn't let pressure get to you.

Employers hiring for logistics roles tend to look for candidates with bachelor's degrees , and you'll probably see opportunities across a wide range of settings. Strong analytical and problem-solving skills are essential in logistics manager roles, and soft skills like communication and teamwork will be equally important throughout your logistics journey.

Become a supply chain and logistics management professional

From a supply chain manager to a logistics manager to a related role, there are a number of career paths to consider if you choose to pursue a supply chain management degree program—opening doors to higher-level positions and giving you a competitive advantage in a fast-growing market.

For an idea of some roles you can pursue with a bachelor's degree in supply chain and logistics management, check out the article: " What Can You Do With a Supply Chain Management Degree? 8 Careers to Consider ."

CSCMP ® is a registered trademark of COUNCIL OF SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONALS APICS ® is a registered trademark of APICS, INC. PMI ® is a registered trademark of Project Management Institute, Inc. Certified Associate in Project Management ® is a registered trademark of Project Management Institute, Inc. CAPM ® is a registered trademark of Project Management Institute, Inc. 1 Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), CSCMP Supply Chain Management Definitions and Glossary, (accessed April 2024), 2 Invensis, The Differences Between Supply Chain and Logistics, (accessed April 2024), Supply Chain vs Logistics: [What's the Difference?] ( 3 Completion time is dependent on transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term. 4 CERTIFIED SUPPLY CHAIN PROFESSIONAL, ASCM Los Angeles Chapter, (accessed April, 2024)

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About the author

Hope Rothenberg

Hope Rothenberg is a creative copywriter with agency, in-house, and freelance experience. She's written about everything from area rugs to artificial intelligence, and a ton in between.

Hope Rothenberg smiles at the camera in a black and white photo against a brick wall

Posted in Supply Chain and Logistics Management

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