According to United Nations’ estimates, 800 million people worldwide go hungry each year. That’s sobering. To make matters worse, nearly one-third of the world’s produce is lost or becomes spoiled before it can reach those who need it most because of improper cold storage protocols. That means an annual loss of more than one billion tons of wasted food produce globally. The most susceptible food products requiring special consideration include meat, eggs, milk, and most fruits and vegetables. In an effort to reverse this cycle, in 2016, the United Nations announced the goal of cutting food waste levels in half by 2030.
An adequate cold storage system or process is an essential weapon in the war against waste. Generally, food products are safe when stored at temperatures of 40 degrees or lower. This calls for balance since lower temperatures could lead to undesired freezing, while higher temperatures can diminish food quality by increasing water loss.
The issue of waste is not restricted to food. Valuable medicines may become less potent or worse, entirely wasted, if proper temperatures are not maintained. Pharmaceuticals also run the risk of heat damage, which could cause patients extended disruptions in their medical care or other serious or long-term adverse effects.
Decreasing the amount of wasted product throughout the whole supply chain is more than a humanitarian issue. It’s important to businesses and it’s environmentally beneficial on a global scale. This article will discuss waste, the ways to curtail it, and future technologies being developed to extend the shelf life of food around the world.
Food Waste & Factors Affecting Shelf Life
Food waste is a trillion-dollar industry and an issue of global concern. Investors are spending millions to address, combat, and reverse the problem. They are also working with supply chain partners to research and develop new technologies to reduce food waste and extend supply chain inventory shelf life (or the amount of time a product has before it becomes unfit for human consumption).
Temperature, moisture, and humidity in the atmosphere are factors that can adversely affect shelf life throughout the entire supply chain system. Losses can occur at any point during the production, processing, or distribution of food or pharmaceuticals. Proper packing, packaging, transport, and delivery will help to ensure a prolonged shelf life. Having an all-encompassing cold chain storage system in place can protect against unexpected occurrences and products slowly rotting needlessly on shelves.
The Future of Cold Chain
The future of cold chain is technology. The cold chain process involves end-to-end transport of temperature-controlled products using refrigerated and thermal transportation and packaging methods. For example, when a bunch of grapes is plucked from the vine, it’s shelf life begins to countdown.
With every day that passes, fruit gets downgraded from delicious fresh and healthy treats to potential food safety hazards as they begin to rot. Proper refrigeration is required in the safe delivery of the grapes to the grocery store, and of course and to the eventual end consumer. Innovative technologies are emerging to extend the shelf life and stability of perishable foods and medicines including:
Cold Chain Technologies
- Controlled-temperature rooms – Rooms regulated to maintain a temperature environment of 20°-25° (68°-77 °F)
- Active packaging and intelligent packaging – Systems that monitor the condition of packaged foods, providing data on product quality during storage and transport
- Smart containers – Refrigerated transportation units that allow warehousing companies and their partners to receive real-time tracking information of shipment temperature, location, and humidity.
Merchandise Warehouse takes their commitment to exceptional cold chain storage management seriously. They are recognized as forward-thinking leaders in the cold chain storage industry. Their multi-temp warehouses offer 560,000 sq. ft. of strategically located, sprinkler-equipped space. This space makes good use of its controlled-temperature rooms and intelligent packaging. Merchandises Warehouse’s CCTV, EDI, WMS (Datex), and RF scanners, allows real-time access to activity reports, via an online web portal. For more information on protecting perishable products from unnecessary waste and extending inventory shelf life, contact the cold chain professionals at Merchandise Warehouse.