Better Logistics & Cold Chain Facilities - Key to Reducing Food Loss
Nuffoods Spectrum|December 2016

Better Logistics & Cold Chain Facilitieskey to Reducing Food Loss

Rajesh Rathi

The rapid rate of urbanization of global population calls for longer storage and shelf life for fresh food and its transportation to larger distances. The challenge now is to keep the food free from a plethora of pathogens and allergens along its journey from the points of production to consumption. By some estimates, nearly 25 percent to 50 percent fresh fruits and vegetables in our country are wasted due to the above reasons.

A cold chain for perishable foods is the uninterrupted handling of the product within a low temperature environment during the postharvest steps of the value chain including harvest, collection, packing, processing, storage, transport and marketing until it reaches the final consumer. Perishable food includes fresh produce harvested from the agricultural farms, milk collection centers etc. as well as that produced in the food processing plants and dairies. It also includes meat products such as seafood and meat produced in slaughter houses.

While automation is critical for accurate temperature control at every step in a food cold chain, there are many diverse applications where it plays a significant role in making the whole concept easy to manage as an integrated business. Automation generally refers to the use of electronic control systems, to reduce the need for human thinking, decision making or operating the cold chain infrastructure. It also refers to the graphical visualization of the data, generation of alarms prompting human intervention and logging data for quality assurance and compliance and communicating the data to remote places.

In this context, I will examine below a few notable automation technologies and trends for food cold chain that are already in practice or will progressively gather steam over the next decade. It must be noted that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are now inseparable from modern automation.

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