Stemming Food Loss By Enhancing Cold Chain Management
Keeping the cold chain running smoothly is vital for curbing the problem of food loss. When the cold chain is in top form, perishable food loss can be as low as 2 percent. However, it’s not uncommon for problems to occur.
Any number of complications can lead to breaks in the cold chain, whether it’s poor pre-cooling, operator error, insufficient insulation, bad landing practices, malfunctioning refrigerator equipment, or simply leaving the doors of a walk-in cooler open for too long. Once the perishable food has been exposed to temperatures that are too warm, it’s game over. Even slight temperature differences can have a serious impact on their quality. Worst of all, the effects might not be noticed until the products have made their way into the consumers’ homes.
The absence of a functioning cold chain is believed to be behind up to 20 percent of the world’s food loss. In developed countries, food loss because of a lack of refrigeration makes up just 9 percent of the total food production, but in developing countries, that figure is 23 percent.
IoT Driving Advancements
The Internet of Things can help make significant inroads in this area. It has the power to help close the gaps that currently exist in cold chains. For example, it can be used to keep track of the way in which perishable food is handled as it makes its way through the supply chain, thereby identifying opportunities to reduce waste. Active data management also has tremendous potential here. Collecting and analyzing data to make decisions can help turn the situation around very quickly.
Some of the data that can be useful to measure and analyze includes the pre-cooling of products, trailers, and containers; the loading patterns of trailers and containers; ambient temperature while in transit; refrigeration settings; storage and dock conditions; and handling during loading and unloading.