Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

Sustainability

Learn how efficient refrigerated logistics contributes to reducing food waste

Emergentcold
February 9, 2024

Share

Did you know that about a third of all the food produced on the planet is wasted? The figure is alarming: approximately 1.3 billion tons of food go to waste, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The scenario becomes even more critical when we consider that 735 million people go hungry every day. The data refers to 2022 and is part of the report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2023, released in July of this year by the United Nations (UN).
In addition to the social aspects mentioned at the beginning of this article, we also need to add the financial losses, with millions wasted every year in the production, transportation and storage of this food, not to mention the environmental impacts. In other words, this is a problem that affects all aspects of ESG, which establishes good practices regarding environmental, social and governance issues.
An efficient cold chain has a very positive impact on reducing food waste and companies in the sector can stop being supporting players and assume a leading role in this transformation.

Where is the problem that leads to food waste?

In developing countries, most waste occurs in the production and post-harvest stages, due to a lack of adequate infrastructure and inefficient processes. In developed countries, on the other hand, waste is more pronounced at the distribution and consumption stage, with supermarkets and households being the main culprits. UN figures show that around 14% of food is wasted before it is even sold. Of the products made available to consumers, around 17% go to waste.
As the figures show, waste occurs throughout the chain, from the farm to the consumer’s home. We summarize the main causes below:

Technology and data science in combating food waste

Food production is still viewed as an activity with ancient processes, with no room for innovation and little change in recent decades. However, the reality is completely different. New technologies are being applied year after year to guarantee the productivity and quality of food, and the refrigerated transport and storage sector is keeping pace with this evolution. 

Considering that many products are rejected by points of sale if they don’t meet certain standards, more and more innovation is needed to ensure that food stays fresh and has the necessary characteristics and quality for a longer time, during the entire journey, from the farm to the shopping cart. Below are a few examples of the application of technology:

  1. Smart temperature monitoring makes it possible to track and control food storage and transportation conditions in real time. Sensors and devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) allow data such as temperature, humidity and transportation conditions to be monitored throughout the logistics chain. This constant monitoring ensures that the products are kept in ideal conditions, and if any deviations occur, those responsible are alerted immediately, allowing corrective actions to be taken before the product is damaged or becomes unsuitable for consumption.

  1. By using Big Data, it is possible to identify bottlenecks in the logistics chain, making it possible to improve processes, minimize waiting times and avoid delays, which in turn reduces food waste along the route.

  1. Artificial intelligence and big data processing have been applied to optimize the management of refrigerated logistics. AI algorithms can analyze information such as demand forecasts, weather patterns and consumption history to predict future needs and plan food distribution more efficiently.

Pre-cooling: an important ally in food preservation

In addition to strict temperature control during food storage and transportation, applying certain preservation methods is extremely important and necessary to extend shelf life. Pre-cooling is one of these processes, which is widely used with fruit and vegetables.
Immediately after harvesting, the stored products are exposed to a uniform stream of refrigerated air, reaching an average temperature that is capable of reducing the possibility of microorganisms proliferating and loss of water. Each foodstuff requires a specific temperature, so it’s not enough to place everything in a super-cold environment. This process is important to remove the so-called field heat, which is the highest temperature at the harvest site.
A study on citrus fruits, published by ScienceDirect, showed that taking longer than four hours to pre-cool could increase water loss by 50%. If it takes six hours to start the process, the fruit deterioration can be more than 25%.

Freezing preserves food characteristics and nutrients

To further increase the preservation of food while maintaining its appearance and nutrients, the modernization of freezing techniques is yet another ally among all the existing processes in the cold chain. At Emergent Cold LatAm, customers can rely on two extremely efficient techniques:

  1. Blast freezing is one of these techniques, used mainly for meat. Immediately after being slaughtered, cut and cleaned, the meat arrives chilled at our facilities and is placed in giant freezers, where there’s a continuous circulation of chilled air at low temperatures so that the entire load reaches the required negative temperatures equally. After 24 or 48 hours, the products are transferred and stored in cold rooms to maintain the ideal temperature established until the moment of transportation. For example, poultry producers rely on this technology at our plants in Brazil and Colombia, as do the fish producers and exporters we serve in Chile. 

 

  1. IQF (Individual Quick Freezing) is mainly used for fruit and vegetables. In this process, each unit of food is frozen individually, guaranteeing shape, texture and flavor. The packaging procedure is carried out only after freezing, preventing blocks of food from forming. In Peru, we have a state-of-the-art plant for processing, quick-freezing and packaging food, guaranteeing all the necessary handling for export customers with large volumes.

Data from the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) shows that freezing reduces food waste by 47% compared to fresh or refrigerated products. As well as extending shelf life, people who eat frozen products are better at measuring the portions of food they prepare for each meal..

New technologies for food preservation

For those who still resist frozen food, even with all the guarantees of preserving quality and nutritional values, methods such as HPP (High Pressure Processing) are also available, a technology that uses high pressure to preserve food, also called cold pasteurization, and applied mainly to ready-to-eat products, including juices and sauces.

Refrigerated logistics as an ally in the food supply chain

There are two basic services that make up refrigerated logistics and that play a fundamental role in preserving the quality and safety of perishable foods throughout the supply chain. 

  1. Refrigerated transportation is essential to ensure that perishable food reaches its final destination in ideal conditions for consumption. Trucks, ships and airplanes equipped with refrigeration systems ensure that products such as fruit, vegetables, dairy products and meat are kept at suitable temperatures throughout their journey, reducing spoilage and the risk of contamination.
  2. Distribution centers with refrigerated storage play a crucial role in reducing food waste. These sites are designed to keep products in optimal condition until they are shipped to retailers or consumers. With the use of modern technologies, such as humidity-controlled cold rooms and modified atmospheres, it is possible to significantly extend the shelf life of fruit, vegetables and other products that are sensitive to the external environment. 

 

Emergent Cold LatAm, through its professionals, is committed to redefining the cold chain in Latin America. Reducing food waste by transforming the sector is more than just a statement. Achieving this purpose means:

Strengthen our partnership with food banks in the places where we operate, where we donate our services and infrastructure.
Encouraging our customers to donate food close to its expiration date. Thus, the customer reduces their logistical costs and we take on this cost, storing and transporting the product to the institutions affiliated with the Food Bank. This ensures that the food reaches the table of a consumer who needs it.

From the consumer’s point of view, refrigerated storage and temperature-controlled transportation are essential for keeping food fresh, preserved and safe, keeping the quality of the food intact. Efficient refrigerated logistics can contribute to reducing food waste in a number of ways, including:

Education and awareness

Although efficient refrigerated logistics is an important ally in reducing food waste, there are still challenges to overcome in order to make this practice more widespread and accessible.
This evolution involves raising awareness. It is essential that farmers, transporters, retailers, and consumers understand the crucial role they play in reducing food waste and adopt more sustainable practices.
Training and education programs, both for those involved in the food industry and for the general public, can help disseminate information on proper storage techniques, good distribution practices and the positive impact of refrigerated logistics on the preservation of natural resources.

To learn more about our solutions for preventing food waste at different stages of the cold chain, visit our service webpage at https://emergentcoldlatam.com/en/services-and-solutions/

Lea también:

Share

Categories

Related content

Cookie consent

By clicking “Accept All”, you consent to the storage of cookies on your device to improve site navigation, analyze site usage and assist in our marketing efforts. More information